Many artists felt that all of Russia was being transformed by forces from the West. Realism permeated Russian culture, as artists became interested in representing subjects from everyday life and from Russian history.
In 1863, a group of senior art students who opposed the restrictiveness of the Academy of Fine Arts, resigned in protest. They wanted to paint real subjects from real life, paintings that would make people think. They found their image of the people in such paintings as the Haulers on the Volgaby Ilya Repin, which is regarded by many as an icon of populism.