Taras Shevchenko's release from serfdom (part of Shevchenko's biography by Professor C.H. Andrusyshen)


Taras Shevchenko's release from serfdom

(part of Shevchenko's biography by Professor C.H. Andrusyshen)

(Introduction of "The poetical works of Taras Shevchenko. The Kobzar" by Constantine Henry Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell)

One acquaintance led to another, and in time Shevchenko became known to many influential people in artistic circles, including the Ukrainian-born, Dmytro Hrihorovich, the secretary of the board of the Academy of Art; Oleksij Venetsianov, the painter; Karl Briullov,  the creator of “The Last Day of Pompeii" canvas; and the famous Russian Romantic poet, V. Zhukovsky, the tutor of Tsarevich Alexander. By that time Shevchenko had produced several paintings dealing with old Slavic and Classical themes, and these revealed him to them as an artist of some promise.

Taras Shevchenko. Portrait of Vasily Zhukovsky
Taras Shevchenko,
"Portrait of Vasily Zhukovsky"

Among this coterie it then became a question of freeing Shevchenko from serfdom; and it was finally decided that Briullov would paint a portrait of Zhukovsky that would be auctioned off at the imperial court for at least 2,500 rubles, the sum demanded by Engelhardt for Shevchenko's liberation. The portrait was bought by the Empress Oleksandra Fedorovna, and on April 22, 1838, Shevchenko received a document signed by his landlord releasing him from serfdom. He was then twenty-four years of age. And so, from Shiryayev’s workshop Shevchenko now moved as Briullov's student to the comfortable classes of the Academy of Art in which he was permitted to enrol. His friendship with Briullov continued strong, and he would at times spend days on end in the painter's private quarters where specialized books, journals, and other means of increasing his knowledge of art were placed at his disposal.

Introduction written by Professor C.H. Andrusyshen

Source: The Poetical Works of Taras Shevchenko. The Kobzar. Translated from the Ukrainian by С.H. Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell. Published for the Ukrainian Canadian Committee by University of Toronto Press, 1964. Toronto and Buffalo. Printed in Canada, Reprinted 1977, p. 13 - 14.



Read more:

Shevchenko's life and work
Introduction of "The poetical works of Taras Shevchenko. The Kobzar" by Constantine Henry Andrusyshen and Watson Kirkconnell.

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