As a boy, Ilya Repin received his first lessons in art in 1858, when he worked for a talented icon painter I. M. Bunakov. Working with Kramskoi, in a year Repin developed his skills sufficiently to be accepted in the Academy. In 1870, Repin made his first sketches for Baurge Haulers on the Volga, while being on a boat trip. When the work was finished in 1873, it immediately won recognition. In the same year for several months Repin had been traveling around Italy and then settled to work in Paris up until 1876. After returning to Russia, Repin settled in Moscow. It was a very fruitful period of his creative activity. During these 10–12 years Repin created majority of his famous paintings. He is the author of many portraits, but he never painted faces, he painted real people. Repin rarely painted historical paintings. The most popular in this genre is The Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mahmoud IV. The contemporaries saw it as a symbol of the Russian people throwing off their chains.