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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works


Portrait of Catherine Abaza (?)

Taras Shevchenko. Portrait of…

Taras Shevchenko. Portrait of Catherine Abaza (?). 1837. [St. Petersburg].
Bristol paper, watercolour. 22,5 × 18,1 cm
Taras Shevchenko National Museum, № g-856.

At the bottom left author's date and signature in pencil: 1837 // Шевченко. On the back below placed inscription in pencil by I.Eisenstok at early 1930's: Catherine Abaza, born Nakhimov.

There are different versions about the depicted person. S.A. Taranushenko, pioneer investigator of the work, which then belonged to N.I. Savchenkova, after her words noted the previous owners and has published it as "Portrait of a woman" [Taranushenko S. On the early watercolor portraits by Taras Shevchenko // Anniversary book in honor of Academician M.S. Hrushevsky. – K., 1928. – S. 98 – 102]. In 1930, the portrait was received by the Taras Shevchenko Institute and called "Portrait of an unknown woman". I.Eisenstok identified she as Mrs. Abaza, laid the traditional, though not fully proven, the title of the work. It was supported by O.P. Novitsky, who give additional information from Eisenstok that K. Abaza's father was a writer Nakhimov [T. Shevchenko Complete Works. – [Kharkiv, 1932. – T. 8]. – P. 23. – № 194. – Tab. 21]. Later Taranushenko considered this portrait as pair work to another, known at that time as «Portrait of Grebinka», both expressed belief that depicts the Demidov's bride [Taranushenko S. Portrait of a Woman by Shevchenko // Homeland. – 1963. – № 10. – S. 218 – 219].

There is also the suggestion that the portrait could be done by Shevchenko through mediation of I.M. Soshenko. Abaza – the manager of Potocki's palace in Tulchin – ordered copies of the palace's paintings to Soshenko [V. Ruban Ukrainian portraiture first half of the XIX century. – K., 1984. – S. 358]. According to another hypothesis depicted person was Elizabeth, daughter of the Winter Palace guard Nicholas S. Nakhimov [Zhur P. Shevchenko's Petersburg. – K., 1972. – S. 51].

Shevchenko mentions the name of the person Abaza (owner of farm near Pereyaslav) in the story "Gemini".

Storage areas: property K.M. Bych-Lubensky; later – N.I. Savchenkova, N.M. Petrova; since 1930 – Institute of Taras Shevchenko, from 1932 – 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).


1939. Kyiv. Shevchenko Jubilee Exhibition [Republican Shevchenko Jubilee Exhibition in Kiev: Product-guide. – K., 1941. – S. 18. – № 87];

1984. Kyiv. Shevchenko-artist. 170-th birthday [Shevchenko-artist: Exhibition Catalogue. – K., 1986. – № 87];

1985. Kyiv. Museum of Kyiv. Shevchenko-portrait (without catalogue);

2002. Minsk. Taras Shevchenko-artist [Taras Shevchenko-artist: Exhibition of works. – Kyiv, Minsk, 2002. – № 2].

I.M. Verykivska

After publication: Taras Shevchenko Complete Works in 10 volumes. – K.: ed. of Acad. Sci. of UkrSSR, 1961, t. 7, bk. 1, № 10 (image); T.H. Shevchenko Complete Works in 12 volumes. – K.: Naukova Dumka, 2003, v. 7, p. 363 – 364 (notes).