Description of the picture:
In the Turkish deceased – Vasily Vereshchagin. 1881. Oil on canvas. 182 x 405 cm
At the mention of the cycle of art works by Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin, known as the Balkan series, one of the first in my memory pops up the picture “In the Turkish Mortuary”, evoking the most sincere, mournful feelings.
Canvas “In the Turkish Mortuary. The Mortuary of the Turkish Infirmary in the Campaign of 1877-1878 ”was painted by the artist in 1881, a little later than most paintings of the Balkan series. This cycle was incredibly hard for Vereshchagin. The events that took place during the Russian-Turkish war did not let go of the artist, who got rid of pain, indignation and internal protest, transferring to the canvas the real face of the war – cold, dead and terrible in its inevitability.
The painting depicts a deceased hospital located in Plevna during bloody battles with the Turks fighting under the leadership of Osman Pasha. A sad and bitter sight appears before the viewer. In a dark, dirty room, the injured wounded rush about in a fever next to the slowly dying and long dead soldiers. There is not enough space, as well as decent medical care, so the unfortunate are not only in the dark: straw on the floor has also become the last bed for soldiers. The spirit of death and hopelessness hovers over bodies that are casually covered with soldier blankets trapped in long campaigns.
The artist skillfully used his finest natural sense of color and knowledge of the laws of chiaroscuro. The canvas almost tangibly conveys the density and stench of hospital air, due to the abundance of heavy, dark shades of blue, and the weak rays of sunlight penetrating through the broken window of the mortuary only reinforce the painful impression. Vereshchagin’s frank picture “In the Turkish Mortuary” is a kind of illustration of the true result of the war, its wrong side and the tragic outcome."