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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works


Expedition to Kara-Tau, 1851

In the spring of 1851 was equipped geological expedition to the peninsula Mangyshlak led by mining engineer Lieutenant O. Antipov to search for coal deposits in the Kara-Tau mountains.

Polish political exiles – Bronislaw Zaleski and Ludwig Turno were members of the expedition. At their request, the commandant of Novopetrovsk fort A. P. Mayevsky sent a team of soldiers to participate in the expedition, including Shevchenko.

Kara-Tau mountains begin 80 km east of Novopetrovsk fort and consists of three parallel ridges that extend from west to east: West Ak-Tau ("white mountain"), Southern Ak-Tau and between them – the central ridge Kara-Tau ("black mountain").

Letters of Br. Zaleski to A. Węgrzynowski and S. Sierakowski written diring the march and in Novopetrovsk fort, allow more or less exactly define the residence time of transport in some areas of the peninsula Mangyshlak [G. P. Palamarchuk, Biographical materials Shevchenko in Br. Zaleski letters, "The issue of Shevchenko", vol. 1, K., 1958, p. 109 – 123].

Br. Zaleski informs that on 21 May, in the evening, he and all transport went to the desert and the first day pass 4, and the second – 25 verstas. So, in the evening on May 22 expedition arrived in the tract Hanga Baba, located 30 km east of Novopetrovsk fort, and the next day, May 23, went by Khiva road through the Kara-Tau. June 1 transport stopped at the well in the valley Apazyr.

In letters written in Apazyr at June 8 and 10 (the first one has postscript Shevchenko, Br. Zaleski said about leaving after 10 days of parking to the other place, "80 verstas from here, where we stay for a month." The guidelines in the letters Zaleski enable to determine residence time in the valley Apazyr between 1 and 18 – 20 June.

Staying on the second deposit at the south-eastern slope of mountain Kara- Tau was brief: "… its exploration is limited to only one external examination" [A. Antipov On the examination of brown coal in the mountains Kara-Tau on Mangyshlak peninsula, "Mining Magazine", St. Petersburg, 1852, Part II, Vol. VI, p. 465]. Letter Br. Zaleski on July 10 from Kugus valley (central part of North Ak-Tau) and a letter to R. Sobanska already from parking at the well Tarla, located in the western part of Kara-Tau, make it possible to determine the estimated time spent in the mountains of North Ak-Tau about from the first of July and no later than August 8.

The first letters from Novopetrovsk fort (after the expedition) was written by Br. Zaleski 7 and September 10. Hence, the expedition ended up September 7, 1851.

Much of the works of Taras Shevchenko period of exile have inscriptions – name of a place and author's numbers from 1 to 45 inclusive (lacks figures with the numbers 7, 11, 14, 15, 23, 24, 30, 34, 37, 43), one figure have unreadable number.

Comparison of the reported data on the expedition ["Mining Magazine", St. Petersburg, 1852, Part II, Vol. VI, p. 460 – 469], correspondence Shevchenko and Br. Zaleski, maps, literature sources and author's titles helped to establish that the numbers on the face of the figures are the author's sequential numbering, which reflects the route of the expedition, confirm that these pictures made during the expedition [see I. M. Verykivska, To attribution pictures Shevchenko from Kara-Tau expedition in 1851, "Art Heritage Shevchenko", K., 1959, p. 70 – 80]. It is also possible to conclude that during the expedition Shevchenko created a series of watercolor landscapes and genre sepia (see fig. № 1 – 17) and a large number of landscape drawings and sketches in pencil (№ 71 – 124).

The obverse of three watercolor landscapes (№ 3, 10, 12) are marked by hand Shevchenko number "3", "22", "25", corresponding to the general sequential numbering (see also fig. № 7187, 89100, 103106 and notes to the number 71124). These watercolors were created during the expedition and they are dated according to the information about the movement of expedition. Figures 3, 12, in addition to labels and numbers on the front side, have an author's inscriptions on the back ("6", "11"); they were made by Shevchenko later in 1857 (see note to number 58).

In cases where the figure is an inscription and a number on the back side only (see fig. № 7 and 9, on the first – 9, the second – 14), the date of watercolors are extended to 13.V 1857, when Shevchenko sent these works, as well as pictures number 3, 12, 58 – 60, to Br. Zaleski for "Vilna album."

Watercolors without any marks by hand Shevchenko (№ 1, 6, 13) dated with extention to the time of release Shevchenko from exile (VII 1857), since they can be implemented in the coming years after the pencil sketchs of 1851 (e.g., "Kulaat mountain" – № 13), because Shevchenko repeatedly returned to Kara-Tau pictures. In January 1854, he wrote to Br. Zaleski: "…if Leo Philippovich… is such a person, as you say, then you, and he 'll soon see and Ak-Tau and Kara-Tau, if not paint, then, at least, sepia".

Watercolor landscapes envisaged by reproductions ["Russian bibliophile", St. Petersburg, 1914, № 1] with respect to reproduction signatures, which states that the picture Shevchenko made from nature, dating from the time of Kara-Tau expedition under its route (see number 2, 8, 11, 17).

I. M. Verykivska, G. P. Palamarchuk, N. P. Prokopenko

After publication: Taras Shevchenko Complete Works in 10 volumes. – Kyiv: ed. Academy of sciences of UkrSSR, 1964, v. 9, p. 3 – 5 (notes).