Before the attack. 183x401 cm
The Balkan series of Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin is the pinnacle of the master’s work. Being a recognized battle painter, Vereshchagin constantly surprised contemporaries with innovative finds, striving for greater realism and sincerity in writing military operations.
The bulk of the work of the cycle was created in France around 1878-1879, however, some were written a little later. Picture “Before the attack. Under Plevna ”was published in 1881, when the impressions of the Russian-Turkish war were not so sharp and painful.
The Balkan series consists of approximately 30 paintings, consisting of several groups, each of which includes several works, united in meaning and idea. A separate mention deserves a group of paintings dedicated to the infamous assault on Plevna. Vereshchagin's work “Before the attack. Under Plevna ”tells about the last moments before the Russian troops were thrown into Turkish positions.
The picture appears before the viewer: in the foreground is a line of Russian soldiers. They lie tight, shoulder to shoulder, uniting in a single diagonal line, which makes the line seem infinitely long, extending beyond the horizon. Warriors are ready for battle and waiting for the command to attack.
On the left is a group of people who are members of the command of the Russian army. Among them, an elderly man with gray whiskers stands out especially - most likely this is General Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev. His noble face expresses concern and concentration, because the success of the third assault on Plevna depends on his decision.
The color palette of the picture is purposefully meager and monotonous. This technique, coupled with a panoramic solution, helped the artist increase anxiety and the special tragedy of the events.
In the background, torn, mutilated trees are visible, which seem to be a symbol of what will happen during the attack. After an exhausting struggle and the capture of the Turkish redoubt, the Russian army will be forced to retreat under the pressure of the enemy, losing almost 13 thousand soldiers.