A SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF THE BARD OF UKRAINE
Taras Hryhorovich Shevchenko, the great Ukrainian poet, artist and
thinker, was born on March 9, 1814, in the village of Moryntsi in
central Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. His parents, H.
Shevchenko and K. Shevchenko, were serfs on the land of V. Engelhardt.
His grandfather I. Shevchenko, who was a witness of the Haidamak
movement, had a significant influence on Taras. Taras's father was
literate, and he sent his son to be educated as an apprentice to a
deacon. In 1823, Taras's mother died, and his father married for a
second time. In 1825, his father also died. For some time little Taras,
now an orphan, served as a houseboy and was in training as a servant. A
talent for drawing showed itself in the boy quite early. When he was 14
years old, he became a domestic servant to P. Engelhardt.
In the spring of 1829, Taras travelled with P. Engelhardt to Vilnius.
There he studied painting under an experienced craftsman. The Polish
rebellion for national liberation from Russia began in November, 1830,
and Engelhardt left for the Russian capital, St. Petersburg. Shevchenko
stayed with the lord's servants in Vilnius and was witness to the
revolutionary events. Shevchenko went to St. Petersburg at the beginning
of 1831. In 1832, the lord "contracted" him to the master painter V.
Shyryayev, with whom the lad experienced a hard school of professional
Noted writers and artists bought Shevchenko out of serfdom. The 2,500
rubles required were raised through a lottery in which the prize was a
portrait of the poet, Zhukovsky, painted by Karl Bryullov. The release
from serfdom was signed on April 22, 1838. A committee of the
Association for the Encouragement of Artists had examined drawings by
Shevchenko and approved them. In 1838, Shevchenko was accepted into the
Academy of Arts as an external student, practicing in the workshop of K.
In January, 1839, Shevchenko was accepted as a resident student at the
Association for the Encouragement of Artists, and at the annual
examinations at the Academy of Arts, Shevchenko was given the Silver
Medal for a landscape. In 1840 he was again given the Silver Medal, this
time for his first oil painting, The Beggar Boy Giving Bread to a Dog.
In the library of Yevhen Hrebinka, he became familiar with anthologies
of Ukrainian folklore and the works of I. Kotlyarevsky, H.
Kvitka-Osnovyanenko, and the romantic poets, as well as many Russian,
East European and world writers.
Shevchenko began to write poetry even before he was freed from serfdom.
In 1840, the world first saw Kobzar, Shevchenko's first collection of
poetry. Later Ivan Franko wrote that this book, "immediately revealed,
as it were, a new world of poetry. It burst forth like a spring of
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