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: 2016-10-24
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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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