In 1870 Repin went on holiday to the Volga to collect material for his 'Barge Haulers on the Volga'. In the small town of Shiriaev Buerak, near Stavropol, he painted and drew barge haulers as well as landscapes and the banks of the Volga.
In March 1871 he received the first prize from the Society for the Advancement of the Arts for this picture, but continued to work on it. In fact, in 1872, he went back to the Volga, as far as Samara. Finally, the painting was exhibited in 1873 at the Academy of Arts.
A. N. Savinov, 'Remarks about Repin paintings', Repin, vol. II (Moscow, 1985) p.328-331.
O.A. Liaskovskaia, I. E. Repin, (Moscow, 1982) p.45-69
M. Karpenko, Y. Kirillina, Repin, (Leningrad, 1985) p.234-235.