Shevchenko's earliest self-portrait. A student of the Academy of Art in S.- Petersburg (winter 1840 - 1841). Oil on canvas.
Taras Shevchenko painted many self-portraits and also depicted himself as a figure in a number of other works. These self-portraits and self-depictions offer another view of Shevchenko's creativity, of his projected self-image, and of his personality.
Shevchenko's artistic heritage for us is not less valuable than his poetry. Do not forget that natural gift of drawing was the very first awakened in him and brought him out of the abyss of slavery in artistic elite. His artworks are diverse. Already during his lifetime Shevchenko had a well-deserved honor as outstanding portrait painter. He also performed a large series of landscapes, architectural sketches (including ukrainian antiquity), book illustrations. He was the first of Ukrainian who mastered the etching technique and created in it a number of famous compositions. Our web publication is intended to show the world the great ukrainian artist – Taras Shevchenko.
Taras Shevchenko's poem
"Ghamalija" / "Oj nema, nema ni vitru, ni khvyli iz nashoji Ukrajiny!"
("Гамалія" / «Ой нема, нема ні вітру, ні хвилі із нашої України!")
1848, Orsjka fortecja (Oрська фортеця)
Taras Shevchenko's poem
"Dumy moji, dumy moji, / Lykho meni z vamy!"
("Думи мої, думи мої, / Лихо мені з вами!")
1840, S.- Petersburg (C.- Петербург)
Taras Shevchenko' poem
"Prychynna" / "Reve ta stohne Dnipr shyrokyi"
("Причинна" / "Реве та стогне Дніпр широкий")
1837, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)
"Song out of darkness" by Vera Rich, title page of the book
Taras Shevchenko's poem
"Chernecj" / "U Kyjevi na Podoli Bulo kolysj..."
("Чернець" / "У Києві на Подолі Було колись...")
1848, Orsjka fortecja (Орська фортеця)
"The Kobzar of the Ukraine". Being select Poems of Taras Shevchenko. Done into English Verse with Biographical Fragments by Alexander Jardine Hunter.
Title page of the book
(News archive: 09 March 2014)
The British Council joined representatives of France, Japan, Germany and Poland in a cultural celebration of the poetry of Taras Shevchenko in front of a packed audience at the Maidan in Kyiv on Sunday 09 March. British Council Director, Martin Dowle, read an English translation of “If it does not touch me” (Мені однаково, чи буду), translated by one of the key translators of Taras Shevchenko’s work, Vera Rich, in 1961.
On February 12 (old style) 1840 the Russian censor in St Petersburg, Petr Korsakov (1790 - 1844) gave permission to publish a small book of poetry by an unknown Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko.
From news archive: 29 June 2014
Fifty years ago, on June 27, 1964, the American Capital inaugurated a monument to Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, outstanding Ukrainian poet, philosopher, artist and outstanding personality, who entered the global pantheon of cultural heritage.
"Taras Shevchenko. Works. Volume 12. Shevchenko's poetry in translations."
Taras Shevchenko. Selected poetry. Kiev,
Dnipro, 1977. Title page of the book.
"Songs of Ukraina, with Ruthenian poems", London, Paris, Toronto, New York, 1916. Translated by Florence Randal Livesay. Title page of the book.
Taras Shevchenko, "Poplar", 1839
"Topolja" / "Po dibrovi viter vyje"
("Тополя" / "По діброві вітер виє" )
1839, S.- Petersburg, (C. - Петербург)
Shevchenko was free again, and on August 2, in a fishing boat, he sailed across the Caspian to Astrakhan, which he reached three days later. On August 23, after nearly three weeks in that unattractive city, where he visited many of the friends he had known in Kiev, he sailed on a steamship up the Volga to Nizhni Novgorod. On the way he visited Saratov, Samara, and Kazan. When on September 20 he reached his destination, the police presented him with an order from Uskov to return to Orenburg, for, according to the latest official communication which Uskov received shortly after Shevchenko had left, the poet was not to return to St. Petersburg or to Moscow but was to wait in Orenburg for further instructions as to where he was to go. The difficulty was overcome by his friends in Nizhni Novgorod who advised him to simulate an illness.
The worst period of his life had begun. He arrived there with a band of political "criminals" to whom all correspondence was forbidden. After two and a half years of freedom from military training, he was again subjected to it. He was placed under the supervision of a coarse, brow-beating captain, Potapov, who mocked, drilled, and disciplined him mercilessly and almost each day searched his pockets to see if he had written anything. But an even greater curse than this beastly creature was the bleak environment of sandy, marshy, rocky tracts. With the exception of the Bible, he had no books to read.
At that time Shevchenko lived at the home of Captain K. Gem, who was attached to the Governors suite. It was actually through the good offices of his host that the poet enjoyed the benevolence of the Governor. However, he was not one to let well enough alone. For some time he noticed that a certain lieutenant, M. Isayev, was paying intimate visits to Gern's wife. When the matter became clear to him beyond any shadow of doubt, Shevchenko, outraged at such an injury to his benefactor, brought Gern home to reveal to him the flagrant misdeed. To revenge himself on the delator, the very next day Isayev reported to Governor Obruchev that Shevchenko, contrary to the prohibition, wore civilian clothes, lived outside the military quarters, wrote verses, and painted. All that was perfectly well known to Obruchev, but, although he would have preferred to let the matter rest there, now that it was made public, he dared not for fear that Isayev might report on his lenience to the authorities at St. Petersburg. He therefore ordered a search of Shevchenko's apartment.
In the spring of 1848, the government organized an expedition under Captain O. Butakov to study the as yet unexplored Aral Sea, its depths and coastline, writh a view to the advisability of building fortifications upon its shores for further imperialist expansion in the direction of Afghanistan. The expedition needed an experienced draughtsman to sketch the salient places where fortresses might be constructed. And so, at Butakov's instance and after investigating Shevchenko's behaviour, the military authorities at Orenburg decided to appoint him to that task, although no permission had as yet arrived from St. Petersburg to free him from the curtailment of drawing and painting. On May 9 Shevchenko received instructions from Orenburg that he was being relieved from the regiment at Orsk and attached to the expeditionary battalion, with the right to draw and sketch anything that was considered necessary. Although, according to those who had lived in the Aral region, life at Orsk was an Eden in comparison, Shevchenko felt a sense of relief. The next day he was on the way to his new destination.