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Shevchenko, Taras [?ev?enko] b 9 March 1814 in Moryntsi, Zvenyhorod

county, Kyiv gubernia, d 10 March 1861 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

(Photo: Taras Shevchenko.) Ukraines national bard and famous artist.

Born a serf, Shevchenko was orphaned when he was twelve and grew up in

poverty and misery. He was taught to read by a village precentor and was

often beaten for wasting time on drawing. At the age of 14 he became a

houseboy of his owner, P. Engelhardt, and served him in Vilnius

(182831) and then Saint Petersburg. Engelhardt noticed Shevchenko's

artistic talent, and in Saint Petersburg he apprenticed him to the

painter V. Shiriaev for four years. Shevchenko spent his free time

sketching the statues in the capitals imperial summer gardens. There he

met the Ukrainian artist Ivan Soshenko, who introduced him to other

compatriots, such as Yevhen Hrebinka and Vasyl Hryhorovych, and to the

Russian painter A. Venetsianov. Through these men Shevchenko also met

the famous painter and professor Karl Briullov, who donated his portrait

of the Russian poet Vasilii Zhukovsky as the prize in a lottery whose

proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom on 5 May 1838.

 

Soon after, Shevchenko enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint

Petersburg and studied there under Briullovs supervision. In 1840 his

first poetry collection, Kobzar, consisting of eight Romantic poems, was

published in Saint Petersburg. It was followed by his epic poem

Haidamaky (The Haidamakas, 1841) and the ballad Hamaliia (1844). While

living in Saint Petersburg, Shevchenko made three trips to Ukraine, in

1843, 1845, and 1846, which had a profound impact on him. There he

visited his still enserfed siblings and other relatives, met with

prominent Ukrainian writers and intellectuals (eg, Hrebinka, Panteleimon

Kulish, and Mykhailo Maksymovych), and was befriended by the princely

Repnin family (especially Varvara Repnina). Distressed by the tsarist

oppression and destruction of Ukraine, Shevchenko decided to capture

some of his homelands historical ruins and cultural monuments in an

album of etchings, which he called Zhivopisnaia Ukraina (Picturesque

Ukraine, 1844).

 

After graduating from the academy of arts in 1845, Shevchenko became a

member of the Kyiv Archeographic Commission and traveled widely through

Russian-ruled Ukraine in 1845 to sketch historical and architectural

monuments and collect folkloric and other ethnographic materials. In

1844 and 1845, mostly while he was in Ukraine, he wrote some of his most

satirical and politically subversive narrative poems, including Son (A

Dream), Sova (the Owl), Kholodnyi Iar, Ieretyk/ Ivan Hus (The

Heretic/Jan Hus),Slipyi (The Blind Man), Velykyi l'okh (The Great

Vault), and Kavkaz (The Caucasus). He transcribed them and his other

poems of 184345 into an album he titled Try lita (Three Years).

 

While in Kyiv in 1846, Shevchenko joined the secret Cyril and Methodius

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