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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works


On the Volga, 1857

Drawings made during the voyage from Astrakhan to Nizhni Novgorod. [5.VIII – 16.IX 1857].

While sailing along the Volga Taras Shevchenko conducted a series of landscapes (see number 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 86, 88) and some portraits (see number 3, 6, 11, 12). He began to prepare for this voyage during his stay in Novopetrovsk fort, as evidenced by his diary record on June 30, 1857: "Going to sail the Volga from Astrakhan to Nizhni, I got a clean notebook for trip journal…" Perhaps at this time he also painted paper for drawing. Sheets of paper he used for portraits, and the strips cutted along – for the Volga views.

From Astrakhan Shevchenko went on steamer "Prince Pozharsky". Swimming lasted a month. August 29, 1857 Shevchenko wrote in his diary: "I tried to make sketches of one place from the deck of the ship, but alas, there is no way. Deck shaking and contours of the coast rapidly changing". This forced the artist draw mostly during stops on the landings. Performed during this time the vast majority of pictures are linear.

Some drawings made by Shevchenko while swimming, numbering and has author's name (see number 1, 2, 4, 5, 87, 88). Other images have only the name (see number 7, 8, 9, 10). Having accurate records in his diary about the time and place of parking steamer allows for numbered pictures assign to the series and for all landscape pictures and portraits define the date of their execution.

Maybe that Shevchenko predicted using of travel sketches for a series of Volga landscapes, as evidenced by a letter Br. Zaleski to Shevchenko on October 5, 1857: "With the return of the "Vilna album" publisher conversation with him at the expense of your Volga species" ["Kyiv antiquity", 1897, Vol. III, p. 473]. Shevchenko's idea was not implemented.

N. P. Prokopenko

After publication: Taras Shevchenko Complete Works in 10 volumes. – Kyiv: ed. Academy of sciences of UkrSSR, 1963, v. 10, p. 6 (notes).