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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works



Taras Shevchenko. Catherine

Taras Shevchenko. Catherine. 1842. [St. Petersburg].
Oil on canvas. 93 × 72,3 cm.
Taras Shevchenko National Museum, ¹ J- 100.

Right at the bottom of black paint the date and signature: 1842. Shevchenko, slightly lower – author's signs with red paint, which are now unreadable. In the first description of the painting indicated only on the author's signature and date, made with red paint [Catalog of V. Tarnowski's Museum of Ukrainian antiquity / arranged by B.D. Grinchenko. – Chernigov, 1900. – T. 2. – p. 193. – ¹ 427; T. Shevchenko Complete Works. – [Kharkiv, 1932. – T. 8]. – p. 40. – ¹ 293]. Recent comprehensive studies of canvas showed that the inscriptions in black paint is not author's [Yatsyuk V. Painting – my profession: Shevchenko studies. – K., 1989. – p. 20 – 23].

Information about the time of painting and its story Shevchenko gave in a letter to G.S. Tarnowsk³ on January 25, 1843:

"It's what, I drew this summer two paintings and hid, thinking that you arrive for a picture, you see, their our, I did not show them to katsapy [russians]. But still Skobelev find out and one coax out and the other is in me, and that this is not traveled by any Moskal (for it is, you see, my Catherine), I think send it to you, and how many it will cost, then this is your will, though a piece of bacon, then it is good in a foreign land. I drew Catherine while she parted with her Moskalyk [officer] and return to a village; in the pasture near hut the grandfather sits, slice a spoon and sadly looks at Catherine, but she did not cry unfortunate and raises a red front pinafore for it is, you know, bit it necessary… And Moskal galloped after own forces, in the dust – even dog allegedly barking. On one side of the tomb, windmill on the grave, and there has just plain dreaming. So my picture."

Basically the painting was completed in summer 1842, but the artist probably returned to work on it later. Sketches of composition, made January 25, 1843 in cited letter to Tarnowsk³, differs from the painting in its current form. In it, such as horse drawn completely, while at the painting its hind legs overlapped by figure of Catherine. The posture of the rider also changed. In outline his figure represented more vertically, and head and shako – over the horizon line. X-ray study of canvas showed that in some stage of completion was repainted: under the top layer of paint available another, which corresponds to an outline image [Dorofiyenko I.P. The study of paintings by T. Shevchenko // Questions of Shevchenko. – K., 1978. – p. 111]. These observations suggest that some parts were repainted after January 25, 1843 in St. Petersburg or even in Ukraine.

There is a view according to which in the autobiographical novel "Artist" describes the events associated with the process of painting "Catherine". There, it called the "Vestal virgin" apparently due to the similarity of the original meanings of words "Catherine" and "vestal virgin" – "perfect", "clean" [Yatsyuk V. Painting – my profession. – p. 10 – 20].

The first author's information about the work appeared in 1862 in publication of the mentioned Shevchenko's letter to G.S. Tarnowsk³ [Base. – 1862. – ¹ 5. – p. 5 – 6].

Reproduced for the first time in 1896 [Kievan antiquity. – 1896. – ¹ 2. – Before the p. 1; By sea and land. – 1896. – ¹ 8. – p. 137]

Storage areas: from 1843 – property of G.S. Tarnowsk³; from 1853 – V.V. Tarnowsk³–older; not later than 1866 – a collection of V. Tarnowsk³, Jr.; from 1899 – V. Tarnowski's Chernihiv museum of ukrainian antiquities, 1925 – Chernihiv Historical Museum, 1933 – Gallery of pictures by T.H. Shevchenko (Kharkiv), from 1940 – Central Museum of T.H. Shevchenko (Kyiv); from 1948 – State Museum of T.H. Shevchenko (Kyiv).


1929. Chernihiv. Shevchenko exhibition [Karachevska A. Exhibition of Taras Shevchenko: Guide. – Chernihiv, 1930. – p. 30. – ¹ 10].

1939. Kyiv. Shevchenko Jubilee Exhibition [Republican Shevchenko Jubilee Exhibition in Kiev: Product – guide. – K., 1941. – p. 18. – ¹ 87];

1951. Moscow. Art Exhibition of USSR [Visual Arts Exhibition Ukrainian SSR. Painting, Sculpture, Graphics: Product. – Kiev, 1951. – p. 104];

1968. Prague. Shevchenko exhibition [Taras Ševčenko: Výstava o životĕ a díle. – [Prague 1968]. – ¹ 10 / 1];

1983. Kyiv. Exhibition of renovated works (without directory);

1984. Moscow. Exhibition of renovated works in the USSR (no directory);

1984. Kyiv. Shevchenko – artist. To 170–th birthday [Shevchenko – artist: Exhibition Catalogue. – K., 1986. – p. 6];

2003. Lviv. The exhibition of one painting.

V.M. Yatsyuk

After publication: T.H. Shevchenko Complete Works in 12 volumes. – K.: Naukova Dumka, 2003, v. 7, p. 94 – 95 (image), p. 388 – 389 (notes).

Additional images