Taras Shevchenko. Mermaids. Paper, sepia, whitewash (30.3 × 45.4 cm). [St.Petersburg]. [No sooner than III 1859]. Taras Shevchenko National Museum, inv. g – 280.
On the back of the bottom ink inscription: "Mermaids on the Dnieper." Drawing by Shevchenko, transferred from Peter Arkadievich Kochubej to Peter Nykytych Kryvkovych and from him to me. Prof. Adrian Prakhov. 1898 april 25 S.P.B.
The reason for dating is memories by N. Belozersky about the start of Shevchenko's work on this picture:
"About half of March 1859 Kochubej ordered Shevchenko to paint four paintings in oils, for which he appointed 4 thousands silver roubles. I remember the story of these two paintings: one – "How mermaids catch a month", and on another – Somko Mushket» [A. N. Belozersky Taras Grigorevich Shevchenko by memories of different persons (1831 – 1861), "Kyiv antiquity", K., 1882, Vol. X, p. 74].
April 12, 1860 Shevchenko wrote to M. Ja. Makarov mentioned this picture:
"Ask Peter Arkadievich [Kochubej] to give me to autumn my picture "Mermaids". I want to correct something and engrave to exhibition. If it is possible, to giver of this will present a picture…"
From the literature it is known that this picture made by P. A. Kochubej's order, and is alleged to sketch for unfulfilled Shevchenko's painting on walls and ceilings in the building of customer.
The model for the composition "Mermaid" were O. Sokolenko (see note to number 157) and B. G. Sukhanov-Podkolzin [see. B. Sukhanov-Podkolzin, Memories on Taras Shevchenko by his accidentally disciple; M. G. Burachek, Great folk artist, Kharkov, 1939, p. 44].
Drawing is also mentioned with the name of "Dnieper mermaids" ["Bee", 1876, № 16]. This figure was engraved by Shabler [see "Bee", 1876. Appendix to number 16].
The article by E. Sereda "Main chronological dates of the life and works of Taras Shevchenko" ["Literary criticism", 1939, № 2-3, p. 204] incorrectly stated that the picture was a copy of the Karl Briullov's work and mistakenly credited it to the prints submitted to the Council of the Academy of Arts for the title of academician.
In the literature there is a false indication that the picture was in the collection of E. E. Reitern.
Storage areas: property of P. A. Kochubej, P. M. Kryvkovych, A. V. Prakhov, S. S. Botkin, Russian museum, Institute of Taras Shevchenko, Kharkiv, Gallery of pictures Shevchenko, Kharkiv.
L. I. Vnuchkova
After publication: Taras Shevchenko Complete Works in 10 volumes. – Kyiv: ed. Academy of sciences of UkrSSR, 1963, v. 10, № 37 (image), p. 25 – 26 (note).