The childhood of the famous Russian painter Vasily Ivanovich Surikov was spent in Siberia. He was born in 1848 in Krasnoyarsk, where there were many Old Believers, whose ancestors did not accept the church reform of Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century. Therefore, Vasily Surikov's interest in the history of the schism appeared in his youth. According to memoirs, for the first time the story of the boyaryna Morozova, the future painter heard from his aunt Olga Durandina, when he was still a student of the district school. But Surikov began work on the canvas only in 1871, having made the first sketches, and the painting was ready only sixteen years later.
What became famous for Theodosia Prokofievna Morozova, depicted in one of the most famous paintings by Surikov? She was a representative of the Sokovnins, one of the noble Moscow families. At the age of 17, she married Gleb Morozov, lived in a large estate in the village of Zyuzino near Moscow. In the district, Feodosia Prokofievna was known for her charity work. She helped the poor, received wanderers in her house, sheltered Old Believers who were suffering oppression from the authorities.
Feodosia Morozova was widowed early, she was only thirty years old. After the death of her husband, she became the owner of a huge estate and 8, 000 peasants. But, as before, she spent a significant part of her wealth on charity, openly protesting against Nikon, communicating with his main opponent, Archpriest Avvakum.
In November 1671, by decree of the tsar, the noblewoman Morozova was sent first to the Chudov Monastery, and then was somewhat detained in the prison of the city of Borovsk. They wanted to burn her, but Morozova was saved only thanks to the intercession of the influential Moscow aristocracy. Theodosia Prokofievna Morozova died on November 2, 1675 from exhaustion. Her sister Evdokia Urusova, who was also exiled for adherence to the old faith, died a little earlier.
A few years after the death of Theodosia and Evdokia, their brothers Fyodor and Aleksey Sokovnin installed a slab of white stone on their grave. The tomb was revered by the Old Believers, who served funeral services here, and when passing by, they bowed to the ground. Now in Borovsk, there is a chapel on this place, built in 2005.
Surikov's work on the painting was not easy. From 1881 to 1884 he made about 30 sketches of the future canvas. For each character, the artist tried to find a real prototype, often the search took not days, but months. He painted the image of the noblewoman herself, first from his aunt Avdotya Vasilievna Torgoshina, and then from the elderly Old Believers Stepanida Varfolomeevna, whom Surikov met at the Rogozhskoye cemetery. The portrait sketch was completed in just two hours.
It was not easy to find a model for the holy fool, who, sitting barefoot in the snow, accompanied the boyaryn with two fingers. As a result, Surikov chose a cucumber trader in one of the Moscow markets. It was he who posed for the artist, receiving three rubles for his work. The sitter was so cold that Surikov had to rub his feet with vodka.
No less interesting is the figure of a wanderer standing with a staff next to the holy fool. The staff was found by Surikov in the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. He ran after an elderly pilgrim shouting: "Grandma! Give me a staff!" The old woman mistook the artist for a robber, threw the staff on the road and ran away. Nine different sketches have survived, depicting a wanderer. He looks with sympathy at the disgraced Morozova, the wanderer's eyes are full of sadness, Russia is going through a difficult time of church schism.
The artist thought for a long time about how to get rid of the static picture, to show that the sleigh, in which the boyaryn Morozova is chained, has already started? As Surikov himself said: "My horse does not go, and that's all." As a result, a running boy appeared next to the sleds. The picture captures a dramatic moment, a sleigh with Feodosia Prokofievna Morozova is driving through snowy Moscow. People crowded around, some of them sympathize with the boyar, others just came out of curiosity.
Surikov's painting turned out to be impressive in size - 304x587, 5 cm. In 1887 "Boyarynya Morozova" was shown at the 15th traveling exhibition, after which it was acquired by the famous Moscow collector and patron of art Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov. He was not stingy by paying Surikov 25, 000 rubles, a huge amount of money for that time. Thanks to Tretyakov's generosity, Surikov finally managed to realize his old dream, together with his family he decided to visit his homeland - the distant city of Krasnoyarsk.
The picture of Vasily Ivanovich Surikov was perceived ambiguously. The "Boyaryna Morozova" was highly appraised by the writers Vsevolod Garshin and Vladimir Korolenko, the critic Vladimir Stasov, who called it the first of all paintings on the theme of Russian history. But, many criticized Surikov for promoting church schism.