Description of the picture:
Mortally wounded – Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin. 1873. Oil on canvas. 70 three x 56.6 cm
What is the actual drama – a man who, with all his creativity, demonstrated his rejection of the war, turned out to be the best battle-man in Russian history and died defending his Fatherland during the Russo-Japanese war.
The picture is an almost instantaneous shot, one piece from the life of the depicted character, with the very last moment when he is already saying goodbye to life. The hero is still alive, but his earthly existence will be interrupted when his run is completed and he will fall to the ground. He realizes that he is wounded, feels a mortal cold, but hope has not yet left him. The soldier runs, trying to save himself, or maybe he is already just driven by the instinct of self-preservation.
The abandoned rifle and the dead warriors lying next to the running one tell us the story of a fierce battle. The painter captured one of the fragments of military operations in Central Asia. This is clearly hinted at by the light form of the fighter, their “colonial” headgear that protects from the scorching sun. The master was breathtakingly able to convey the very atmosphere of this place – dazzling snow-white light, blue shadows, the highest adobe whitewashed walls melting in powder smoke, the feeling of a dry and dead land.
Working on this canvas, the painter risked the fact that contemporaries wouldn’t learn it, would consider that she exposes the fighter not as heroes, but as cowards running from bullets. But he always had his own point of view on the war, which he defended all his life. His picture is a direct accusation of war as a killer of people who could live another 10 years. The expression of a deadly nightmare on the face of a wounded soldier tells us that he realizes what is waiting for him, but tries not to run away from bullets, but seeks to save his own life.
Although the war, which the painter constantly exposed in his own work, eventually reached the artist, just like the hero of his painting, the master’s works remained alive. And nowadays, they are constantly revealing the true essence of war as a stupid and fierce method of exterminating people."