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Taras Shevchenko

Encyclopedia of the life and works


Allegorical figures 1856

The set of allegorical pictures was drawn by Shevchenko in Novopetrovsk fort in 1856.

Shevchenko sign on the obverse, sequential numbering (from number 1 to 10) and title, made by his hand on the back of this figure "Telemachus on Calypso's island" present on another nine other Sepia Shevchenko made in Novopetrovsk fort (see number 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55).

Usually, the pictures in the exile Shevchenko did not sign. He mentions in letter to Br. Zaleski in 1856 (between 3.VIII and 15.IX): «…I'll have to send the clothes to my countrymen that… certainly require my stamp on each piece, on that I never bring myself, and otherwise in their eyes the product has no value".

In Novopetrovsk fort with monogram "Sh" Shevchenko marked only two pictures (see number 39, 41).

Author's signatures and names on these ten drawings made by the author, obviously later when them transferred to M. S. Shchepkin for the lottery, held in Moscow in mid-January 1858 [see G. Palamarchuk, History of ten drawings, 'Ukraine', K., 1959, № 5, p. 9]

Date of completion of sepia established by comparing the facts set out in the letters Shevchenko to Br. Zaleski.

As one can see from the letter Shevchenko to Br. Zaleski from 25.IX 1855, at the end of 1855 Shevchenko was not even a single complete picture of these sepia: "With the latest marine mail I send to you something like Monk, and now have nothing done for, but the truth and nothing decent finish". A year later (8.XI 1856) in another letter to Br. Zaleski, apparently referring to these figures, Shevchenko wrote: "Advise me what to do with woolen fabric scraps? I've got about a dozen pieces have accumulated. Last summer was favorable for my manufactory". These drawings were made in the summer, as said well developed vegetation depicted on them, and the bright summer sunlight.

The dating of these drawings in summer 1856 confirmed by similarity in the manner of their execution and detail with a series of pictures "The parable of the prodigal son" over which Shevchenko also began work in 1856 as well and that sketch to the picture "Samaritan" in this series was drawn on the same sheet as the sketch to the picture "In the barn" from the series "The Parable of the prodigal son" (see number 49, 64, 174). Images in this series have in common with pictures "Kazakh Kate" 1856 – 1857 and "Happy catcher" 1856 – 1857.

Most of these figures in the literature false related to academic period [A. Novitsky, Paintings of Taras Shevchenko [manuscript in the Taras Shevchenko National Museum], p. 30 – 33; S. E. Raevsky, Life and works of artist Taras Shevchenko, X., 1939, p. 43 – 44, Tab. 8 – 10 and so on] and dated 1850 – 1857 [V. I. Kasian, On the dating of some Shevchenko's sepia", Art", Moscow, 1939, № 2, p. 53 – 58]

V. O. Sudak

After publication: Taras Shevchenko Complete Works in 10 volumes. – Kyiv: ed. Academy of sciences of UkrSSR, 1964, Vol. 9, № 46 (image), p. 29 – 30 (note).