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One of the greatest Russian realist painters was Ilya Repin. He was comparable to Leo Tolstoy in literature, and he became one of the most important figures in Russian art during the 19th century. He is perhaps the best-known of all the Russian painters. His life and work were largely devoted to depicting the lives of ordinary people. But he was not only a great artist, but a brilliant writer as well.

As a young man, Repin began painting icons. He had no formal training, so he turned to painting as an outlet for his creative energy. Despite his lack of formal training, his ambition led him to the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. This was a great opportunity for him to loosen his legal ties with his father and become a professional painter. In preparation for the Academy, Repin began painting everyday scenes and portraits of local notables.

Ilya Repin's talent for painting came from an early age. At age 11, he received his first formal art training. He learned drafting and coloring. He apprenticed with a local icon painter, Ivan Bunakov, where he learned the basics of painting religious figures. In 1858, Repin became a master and worked as an icon painter for two years. His first exhibition in 1861 was a renowned success, and it is one of the most famous paintings of his time.

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