Tarasevych, Oleksander

Image - Oleksander Tarasevych: portrait of Jan III Sobieski (1680).

Tarasevych, Oleksander [Тарасевич, Олександер; Tarasevyč] (Tarasovych; monastic name: Antonii), b ca 1640, probably in Transcarpathia, d ca 1727 in Kyiv. Engraver and church figure; founder of the Ukrainian school of metal engraving. He and his brother, Leontii Tarasevych, learned engraving in Augsburg at the workshop of B. and P. Kilian until ca 1672. Oleksander lived and worked in Hlusk, Belarus (ca 1672–9), and in Vilnius before returning to Ukraine in 1688 to take monastic vows at the Kyivan Cave Monastery and direct the engraving workshop at the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press. Later he served as acting archimandrite of the Svensk Monastery, near Briansk (1705–10), and the Kyivan Cave Monastery (ca 1718–27). His patrons included Marshal A. Połubiński of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Metropolitans Kypriian Zhokhovsky and Varlaam Yasynsky, Hetman Ivan Mazepa, and rectors of the Kyivan Mohyla Academy.

Tarasevych masterfully executed copper engravings depicting scenes from the New Testament, heraldic compositions, and portraits of Catholic and Orthodox saints and contemporary Ukrainian and Belarusian hierarchs, Cossack colonels, and Polish and Lithuanian monarchs and nobles. The best of his works illustrate books, such as the Rosarium dedicated to Połubiński (1678), Thesaurus (1682), Żywoty świętych (Lives of the Saints, 1693), and Bozhyeiu mylostyiu (By God's Mercy, 1688). Tarasevych engraved the title pages of theses on theological and philosophical scholarly disputes. In Vilnius and Kyiv he trained many professional engravers. Books and albums from his personal library were used as instructional materials in the workshops of the Kyivan Cave Monastery in the 18th and 19th centuries. A book about Tarasevych by Dmytro Stepovyk was published in Kyiv in 1975.

Dmytro Stepovyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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