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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works


Portraits of Russian generals (1843)

Taras Shevchenko. Portraits for the book "Russian generals" by N.A.Polevoj [1842, Fall – 1843, May. St. Petersburg]. Reproduceded by engravings on steel given in the book, published in 1845. Size of portraits submitted for comments to each. Size of sheets in a book – 27, 2 × 17,6 cm.

In the preface to the book noted:

"Portraits drawed by famous artist T. Shevchenko and […] copied from the famous originals stored in the descendants of Russian generals, in the Winter Palace of Russian Tsars and in the community" [Russian generals, or the life and exploits of Russian generals, from the time of Peter the Great to the reign of Emperor Nicholas I / Biography compiled by Nicholas Polevoj. – St. Petersburg, 1845. – C. X].

Original drawings of Shevchenko not found. Reproduced by engravings, made an English engraver, honorary free accomplice Petersburg Academy of Arts, John Henry Robinson, and printed in London.

The title page, headers, letters, heraldry, vignettes and other ornaments, as stated in the preface, drawed artist R.K. Zhukovsky. They are carved on a tree by the best engravers in St. Petersburg.

On execution of portraits commissioned by N.A.Polevoj, Shevchenko, remembering his material needs, told Bartholomew Shevchenko:

"… comes to me Polevoj and says he thinks to issue "Twelve generals" then that I painted portraits of them. I rejoice, I think: the truth of people say, "Naked – oh! and by naked – God". We arranged Polevoj, he gave me a deposit, I thought in these money delivered to adventure" [Shevchenko V.G. Memoirs on Taras Shevchenko // Memories on Taras Shevchenko. – K., 1982. – S. 29 – 30].

Shevchenko started working on portraits of the generals after the illustrations for the "History of Suvorov" – the fall of 1842 and completed them in May 1843, before leaving to Ukraine [Palamarchuk G.P. Portraits of Russian generals // In the free new family: Shevchenko's collection. – K., 1984. – P. 279 – 283]. Then, as evidenced in the Polevoj's diary, he began working on the text of the book [Diary N.A. Polevoj. 1838 – 1845 // Historical Journal. – 1888. – ¹ 4. – S. 165].

Information about what works were primary sources to create portraits of generals, first filed a researcher of history prints, collector D. Rovinsky [Rovinsky D.A. Detailed dictionary of Russian engraved portraits. – St. Petersburg, 1889. – T. 2]. Important clarification about specific pieces that formed the basis of Shevchenko's interpretations expressed G.P. Palamarchuk [Palamarchuk G.P. Portraits painted by famous artist // Visual art. – 1981. – ¹ 2. – P. 19].

Shevchenko, working on portraits, enjoyed the works of different time, style and creative manner of their authors. But he managed to achieve his own style unification. The high artistic quality published in a book of portraits of celebrated contemporary press: "Portraits extremely good at processing and probably very similar to those of which copied" [Fatherland notes. – 1845. – ¹ 6. – S. 57 – 58], "Portraits of the twelve generals are extremely fine" [Illustration. – 1845. – S. 171].

N.P. Prokopenko, V.A. Sudak

Served by publication: T. H. Shevchenko Complete Works in 12- s volumes. – Kyiv: Naukova Dumka, 2003, v. 7, p. 178 – 201 (image), p. 417 (note).