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The Road of the War Prisoners

Vasily Vereshchagin

European Art

Vasily Vereshchagin’s two monumental paintings depicting wartime violence stem from the artist’s own experience as a volunteer correspondent and combatant during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877–78.

In A Resting Place for Prisoners, a snowstorm beats down on Turkish prisoners who are monitored by Russian soldiers wielding lances while a horse and carriage are buried under the snow in the foreground. The Road of the War Prisoners depicts bloodied, frozen prisoners in the storm’s aftermath. Crows perch atop the telegraph wires and pick at the lifeless prisoners strewn across the road.

Openly antiwar in its biting realism and unflinching portrayal of death, The Road of the War Prisoners was rejected for the czar’s collection. In 1891, Vereshchagin sold both canvases to New York collectors still haunted by the horrors of the U.S. Civil War.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Russia
  • DATES 1878–1879
    DIMENSIONS 71 1/4 x 117 11/16 x 2 1/4 in. (181 x 298.9 x 5.7 cm) frame: 79 3/4 × 126 3/16 × 6 3/4 in. (202.6 × 320.5 × 17.1 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband, John W. Brown
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Vasily Vereshchagin (Russian, 1842–1904). The Road of the War Prisoners, 1878–1879. Oil on canvas, 71 1/4 x 117 11/16 x 2 1/4 in. (181 x 298.9 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Lilla Brown in memory of her husband, John W. Brown , 06.46 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 06.46_PS4.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 06.46_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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