The author was inspired by the Cossacks` witty response, which the freedom-loving warriors have written as a real answer to the Turkish sultan Muhammad IV claim for their surrender. Almost all the characters are laughing at the canvas, so they are often called the "symphony of laughter." The second version of the painting, created by Repin at the end of XIX century, is located here.
Today there are about 25,000 artworks of the XV-XXI centuries in the museum's funds. The history of the collection begins in 1805 with 2,777 works of Western European masters purchased for the collections of a university.