(Передвижники), often called The Wanderers or The Itinerants in English, were a group of Russian realist artists who in protest at academic restrictions formed an artists' cooperative which evolved into the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions in 1870.
The society formed in 1870 in St. Petersburg under Ivan Kramskoi, Grigoriy Myasoyedov, Nikolai Ge and Vasily Perov's initiative during a struggle of the avant-garde art forces of the country for democratic ideals, and in a counterbalance to the official center of art — the St.Petersburg Academy of Arts. The society developed the best traditions of the Artel of Artists headed by Kramskoi, who became the leader of the new association.
Peredvizhniki were influenced by the public and aesthetic views of Vissarion Belinsky and Nikolai Chernyshevsky.
From 1871 to 1923 the society arranged 48 mobile exhibitions in St.Petersburg and Moscow, after which they were shown in Kiev, Kharkov, Kazan, Orel, Riga, Odessa and other cities.
As realist artists they showed the many-sided characters of social life, often with critical tendency. Their art showed not only poverty but also the beauty of folk way of life; not only suffering but also fortitude, strength of characters. In the humanistic art of Peredvizhniki there was resolute condemnation of the Russian autocratic orders; the emancipation movement of Russian people was shown with empathy (The Arrest of Propagandist; Refuse from Confession; Not Expected by Ilya Yefimovich Repin). The most important meaning in their art was social-urban life, and later in historic art depicting the people (The Morning of the Execution of Streltsy by Vasily Surikov).
The Peredvizhniki’s society, during their blossoming (1870-1890), developed an increasingly wider scope, and increasing naturalness and freedom of the images. In contrast to the traditional dark palette of the time, they chose a freer, wider manner with a lighter palette in depicting light. They aimed for naturalness in their images, and depiction of peoples relationship with their surroundings.
The innovative, originally folk art of Peredvizhniki, served as effective means of democratic, public, moral and aesthetic education of many generations and became an important factor of development of Russian emancipation movement by helping grow the revolutionary consciousness of the society. V.I. Lenin, and advanced the people of Russian revolutionary movement.