The Wanderers and Critical Realism in Nineteenth Century Russian Painting

Critical realism in nineteenth-century Russia

By David Jackson

The Wanderers and Critical Realism in Nineteenth Century Russian Painting

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6435-7
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £32.50
  • Published Date: June 2011
  • BIC Category: 19th century, c 1800 to c 1899, HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union, ART / History / Romanticism, Russia, History of art, The arts / History of art & design styles: c 1800 to c 1900
  • Series: Critical Perspectives in Art History


The rise of critical realism in nineteenth-century Russia culminated in 1870 with the formation of the Wanderers, Russia's first independent artistic society. Through depictions of the harsh lives of the peasantry, the fate of political activists, Russian history, landscapes, and portraits of the nation's cultural elite, such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, the society became synonymous with dissident sentiments. Yet its members were far from being purveyors of anti-Tsarist propaganda and their canvases reflect also a warm humanity and a fierce pride for such nationalistic themes as Russian myth and legend. Through close readings of single canvases, investigations of major themes and a multi-disciplinary integration of the Wanderers within Russian society, this book gives the first comprehensive analysis of the crucial cultural role played by one of the most successful and genuinely popular schools of art, the legacy of which comprises a fascinating panorama of life and thought in pre-revolutionary Russia.


The book is well written. It reads easily, and this in itself might help to popularize the Wanderers. It can certainly be recommended as a readable popular survey or introduction.


1. Academic autocracy and the artist's burden
2. The challenge to the Academy and formation of the Wanderers
3. The lower depths: images of the rural and urban peasantry
4. The revolutionary's tale: political themes
5. Meritocracy: portraiture
6. History painting: sedition and tradition
7. Landscape painting: styles and ideologies
8. The Slavic Revival
9. Adapted allegiances
Select bibliography


David Jackson is Professor of Russian and Scandinavian Art Histories at the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

The Wanderers and Critical Realism in Nineteenth Century Russian Painting

By David Jackson

Paperback £32.50 / $47.95

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