Ilya Repin: Cursed Paintings!


Ilya Repin, Russian famous realist painter was born on August 5, 1844. He was the most renowned Russian artist of the 19th century. Repin was also known as a “mystical artist”, and there are a lot of reasons for it. His most known piece of artwork is the one pictured above named ‘Ivan The Terrible and his son Ivan’.

Painting detail, cut by Abram Balashov in 1913.

The painting shows the historical 16th century story of Ivan the Terrible mortally wounding his son Ivan in a fit of rage. This painting is by far the most psychologically intense of all his paintings. The Emperor’s face is filled with terror has he lays his son quietly dying in his arms, blood dripping down the side of his face and an single tear on his cheek. Repin began thinking about painting this historical episode after the assassination of Alexander II. In an attempt to illustrate other bloody episodes of Russian history he painted this piece as a as an expression of his rejection of violence and bloodshed.

Repin had been working a lot and after constant tiredness, his right arm started hurting. He had to stop working for a while and got into deep depression. Some say this occurred after he had painted this painting in 1885. Everyone spoke about how the painting was “cursed” and was a reflection of how Repin was feeling. When Abram Balashov, the Russian icon painter first saw the canvas, it is said that he snapped the picture and cut it with a knife while screaming: “Stop the bloodshed”. After that accident, Balashov was sent to a psychiatric hospital. When the painting was exhibited in the Tretyakov gallery, it is said that it had major effects on those visitors who viewed it. Some reported having anxiety attacks and busting in to fits of cries.

Sceptics who looked into this phoneomia of the painting explained that the painting had such a ‘realistic’ look to it that even the blood appears to look real, therefore having a physiological effect on those who viewed it.

Repin did begin to paint again but this time with his left hand and there are many myths that those who posed for his paintings ended up dying straight after. One painting in particular that this occurred was when Repin was painting the portrait named’ Barge Haulers on the Volga”.


Prime Minister Stolypin was shot in Kiev as soon as Repin had painted his portrait.

Another report was that when Repin painted his relative, Ivan Radov, who was a known as a wizard within Repin’s hometown, he became very sick soon after finishing the portrait and his relative was said to be blame for this.

Painting name: “A man with an evil eye”.

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