My soft and gentle Andersen

The Exclusive of the Library of the Ukrainian Art

Text by Kateryna Lebedieva

Illustration by Mykola Murashko for first Ukrainian translation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales

For the first time the tales by Hans Christian Andersen were edited in Ukrainian in 1873. The translation was made by M. Starychenko, the book of 362 pages was published in Kyiv. M. Murashko (1844-1909) created 11 drawings and a portrait of the writer especially for this edition. By that time he was already a well known graphic artist. While studying at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts he became a close friend of Ilya Repin who influenced the formation of the aesthetic views of Murashko. In 1864-1867 Mykola Ivanovich created a highly professional portrait of Taras Shevchenko. Illustrating Andersen’s works, he went on improving his technique of autolithography, when a painter himself, not printers, produces a printed form on a lithograph stone or a zinc or aluminium plate. In this technique also worked Taras Shevchenko and Kostiantyn Trutovsky in the XIX century and Myhailo Deregus, Vasyl Kasiyan and other painters in the XX.

Mykola Murashko

M. Murashko’s illustrations transfer a reader or a spectator into the fantastic world of Andersen. Delicate colours chosen by the painter add more fascination to it. For this edition the artist also created a realistic portrait of the Danish tale teller,a book cover with the word “Kyiv” interlaced into the pattern and an image of a bandura player on the back cover page. Not only the bandurist but many other details: ethnic clothes, siluettes of Cossacks, the very spirit of the illustrations are associated with Ukraine. The magnificent Ukrainian landscapes of the painter’s childhood are exposed in his illustrations. He used to say that his native land had always been his teacher of art.

M. Murashko was strongly dedicated to the children’s art education. Kyiv Drawing School was opened two years later after publishing the Ukrainian translation of Andersen’s fairy tales. The artist had been running the School for 26 years (1875-1901). Many of his students grew into famous artists, but that is another story.

Illustration by Mykola Murashko for Hans Christian Andersen’s tales