From his early childhood Taras Shevchenko`s most irresistible desire was to paint. It led the boy born in the family of serves, who belonged to their landlord, to the Academy of Fine Arts in Petersburg, where he got the grade of academician.
Painting was his true vocation, which could not even be suppressed by his outstanding poetic talent. Some believe that the poet was a born artist. Others, however, say that he was reproducing scenery like a photographer, and his works are interesting only because he is a great poet.
During 1847-1857 exile the largest torture for Shevchenko was a ban to draw. “I am also forbidden to paint, the noblest part of my life has been robbed, – he wrote in his diary. – To be able to watch and not to be able to draw – is a torment for a sheer artist.” However, despite the surveillance and physical exhaustion, Taras continued to draw and during Karatauskoyi expedition in the summer of 1851 about a hundred artistic works were performed in watercolor and pencil.
In general, 835 of his creations have been preserved in the original and are kept in museums, galleries and private collections. There is also some information about 270 items which have not still been not found. His paintings and graphic works dating back to 1830-1861 years are geographically linked to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. They are of various genres: portraits, compositions on mythological, historical and everyday themes, landscapes and architectural views. They are completed in different techniques: of oil on canvas and watercolors, sepia, ink, pencil lead and etching technique on separate sheets of white, colored and tinted paper of different sizes and in five albums. Only a small part of them has signatures, inscriptions and even fewer are dated.
During his life Taras Shevchenko created hundreds of portraits, autoportraits and autocaricatures that are in albums of 1839-1843 and 1846-1850, on the margins of some manuscripts of the poet. They demonstrate his sense of humor and autocritizism.
Books about Taras Shevchenko:
- Ol. Novickiy. Taras Shevchenko, the painter. Lviv-Moscow, 1914.
- A. Skvorcov. The life of artist Taras Shevchenko. Moscow, 1929.
- Ol. Novickiy. Taras Shevchenko. Kiyv, 1930.
- M. G. Burachek. Great artist. With 75 reproductions of T. G. Shevchenko`s artworks. Kharkiv, Mistectvo, 1939.