Illustrations to the fairy tale “The Sea Tsar and His Daughters”

The Exclusive of the Library of the Ukrainian Art

Text by Kateryna Lebedieva

Illustrations to the fairy tale “The Sea Tsar and His Daughters”

It is hard to believe that these bright drawings were created almost a century ago, in 1924. They look really psychedelic and plunge the readers into the fantastic world of folktales. The first and the last edition of the book was published under the title “The Tsar and His Daughters” in Vienna, capital of Austria, by the publishing house “Чайка”(The Seagull). The publishing house founded by the Ukrainian writer and teacher Anton Krushelnytskii (1878-1937), who after the collapse of UPR (УНР) where he was the minister of education, immigrated to Vienna, soon became the cultural center, of the Ukrainian expats, very active in the early 20th.

We know about at least eleven small books from the series “Українській дитині”(For Ukrainian Child). “The Tsar and….” is under #8 in the series. One of the books “Лісовий цар Ох”(The Tsar of the Wood, Oh) was illustrated by Y. Rusov and all the rest by Yurii Vovk and Olena Kulchytska. Five books of the series: “Рак-рибалка”,”Вовченя”,”Іменини”,”Ялинка”,”Поєдинок” (“Craw-fish which was an angler”,”Wolf-cub”,”Name-day”,”Fir-tree”,”Duel”) by O.Oles’ were illustrated jointly by Yurii Vovk and Olena Kulchytska.

We do not know much about Yurii Vovk ,his fabulous in the full sense of the word illustrations. The nephew of the famous ethnographer Fedir Vovk, graphic artist,portrait painter Yurii Vovk(1899-1961) studied in the Ukrainian Academy of Arts(1917-1919). In 1920-1921 took private lessons of art in Rome.

In 1922 he moved to Prague and started his studies there in Karl University and then in the Ukrainian University of Plastic Arts (1924-1927). The artist was a member of the international association “Scythians” in 1929-1932.

Like many other immigrant painters Yuri Vovk used distance collaboration with publishers. He is the author of the logotype of the publishing house of Mychailo Taranko in Lviv (1925), worked as a book designer for publishing houses “The world of children”, “The seagull”, illustrated books of poetry by Vasyl Khmeliuk and other editions.

In 1953-1960 the artist lived in different towns of Slovakia worked as an illustrator in the Slovakian publishing house. He preferred working in pastel, coal or color pencils. The works of the master were exhibited in Ukraine, France ,Czechia,the USA, many of them are kept in The Museum of the Ukrainian culture in Svidnik ,The Museum of written language, National Library of Czech Republic (Prague) and private collections.

The Ukrainian Art Library is the first to introduce the works by Yuri Vovk to the public on the NET, We get impressed with their detailed elaboration and noticeable vanguard influence.