For additional information, please dial the number:
Ukrainian Painting from the 19th to the early 20th c.
Decorativeness was also characteristic of works by Stepan Kolesnykov, a student of Odesa Art School. The stylistics of his painterly-plastic idiom shows a tendency to somewhat different perception of the world. For him, it is most important to show the material force of land embodied in monumental forms and dark brown natural colours, as we see it in his landscape Early Spring. The texture of the artist's canvases characterized by a broad impastoed brushstrokes gains emotional value of its own.
If Odesa Art School was a centre of professional training in southern Ukraine, then Kyiv Drawing School opened in 1875 became an important artistic breeding ground for the northern regions. It played a significant part in the development of realistic painting and training of professionals in national art. It was founded by Mykola Murashko, a talented teacher, art critic, and artist. The school got the active support of the famous Kyivan patron of arts I. Tereschenko at whose expense it had existed for 25 years.
The school rallied the best local and visitant artists. There taught Y. Butkevych and K. Platonov, representatives of the older generation and followers of the academic trend, as well as young M. Pymonenko, S. Kostenko, and H. Diadchenko, who themselves learnt the elements of drawing in this school. In the mid-1880s, M. Vrubel,22 whose original talent M. Murashko recognized among the first, taught painting here. The school was often visited by V. Vasnetsov. As is well known, a group of students helped him in painting of St. Volodymyr's Cathedral.23 N. Ghe was always welcomed here. The famous artist left his farmstead near Chernihiv for communication with the young in Kyiv.24 I. Repin, M. Murashko's friend from the Academy of Arts, often came here to 'the old teacher.' M. Murashko's portrait by his brush hung in the school for a long time as a standard of painting for the young artists. The art exhibitions organized by the school enjoyed great popularity with Kyiv residents. Those were not only presentations of the students' works but exhibitions of famous masters, including marine painters I. Aivazovsky and R. Sudkovsky, a seascape of the latter is reproduced in the album.
The importance of the school was widely recognized at the time of its functioning, and it is no coincidence that one of the first exhibitions mounted by the museum was the exhibition on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of M. Murashko's artistic and pedagogical activities (1908) where works of 'the old teacher' and his numerous pupils were represented.
The majority of the school students belonged to the line in Ukrainian painting in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century that inherited the traditions of the Peredvizhniki, in particular their aesthetic ideals, in which realism was a major artistic vehicle and ordinariness, a principal category of beauty.
This is testified by genre works of Serhiy Kostenko. They are filled with the artist's warm feelings and respect for his characters – ordinary townsfolk whose life he, the son of a Kyivan market woman, knew perfectly well.
The artist painted children with special love. Look at his painting At a Lesson that represents a typical scene from the life of the drawing school. It is painted ingenuously, without sentimentality inherent in the theme itself.
Realistic and democratic principles characterize also the creativity of Hryhory Svitlytsky, who left a versatile heritage: he painted genre canvases with deep social content (To the Town, Musicians) and wonderful, full of romantic feelings landscapes that represent Ukrainian moonlit nights glorified by N. Gogol. His canvas By the Whirlpool is an illustration in a way to the romance Where Willows Are Bending over the Pond (lyrics by A. Tolstoy), highly popular at the beginning of the twentieth century. An excellent musician, H. Svitlytsky could render the imagery poeticism of rhymed lines with characteristic features of symbolism in terms of paints. Mystic elements here naturally correlate with the reality of the represented world.
Democratic tendencies were organic for art of Hryhory Diadchenko, whom his father, a poor peasant from the village of Kyrylivka (Shevchenko's birth-place) brought to M. Murashko 'for learning.' The artist-to-be grew up in the house of 'the old teacher' together with his children. Portrait of a Girl is his early work that demonstrates the artist's skill in creating a lyrical image, his ability to fine modelling of form using a wealth of tonal gradations of colour. Such intimate and heartfelt approach is evident in other portraits and landscapes by H. Diadchenko, in which he, intensifying gradually decorativeness of his painting idiom, comes to the figurative and plastic generalizations.
Works by Ivan Selezniov, also M. Murashko's pupil and a teacher at the drawing school, feature notable characteristics of Academicism. They distinguish his genre and history paintings, as well as a portrait of the Kyivan landscape painter F. Danylov (one of the students of 'the old teacher'). A certain deliberateness of the posture of the character and his entourage 'plays' to the manifestation of external features of the man's belonging to the world of art.
Kostiantyn Kryzhytsky also attended the drawing school. His numerous Ukrainian landscapes unite organically an in-depth analysis of nature with its figurative and poetic perception. Fotiy Krasytsky, a nephew of T. Shevchenko, began his artistic education at Kyiv Drawing School as well. The education of the needy youth was sponsored by the famous Ukrainian composer M. Lysenko. The museum collection, along with a great number of painted portraits, landscapes, studies, and drawings by Krasytsky,25 has the replica of his graduation work Guest from the Zaporozhian Sich. It shows the mature painting mastery of the young artist, his good knowledge of historical material and ability to show the heroic spirit embodied in the image of a Cossack-bandurist in the aspect of the genre painting.
Mykola Ivasiuk from Bukovyna, who mastered the teaching methods of M. Murashko, founded his own school of arts for children from needy families in Chernivtsi (1899–1908). Working prolifically in portraiture and genre art, he received wide recognition as a master of history painting. His monumental canvas Bohdan Khmelnytsky's Entry into Kyiv (the artist had been working on it for more than twenty years) is a landmark in national painting. Turning to a concrete event in the past, the artist created a grand and solemn picture glorifying the history of Ukraine and its heroes. Working out the theme, the artist consulted I. Repin, an unsurpassed authority in history painting. However, in the form of the realization of his idea he could not repudiate the traditions of Academicism: there is the theatricality of the composition and a certain pathetic element in imagery. It is known that the painting enjoyed the tremendous popularity among the artist's contemporaries, gaining an acute topicality. "We were enthused over the image of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and his fellow-fighters who rode behind the Hetman. It was a creative vision of the artist-patriot who at that time dreamt of the reunification of all Ukrainian lands in a single state,"26 wrote in his memoirs the outstanding Ukrainian artist V. Kasian. The canvas as a work of 'an enemy of the people' got to the museum in 1939, after the tragic death of its creator, and fortunately has survived, escaping the artist's fate.