Drawing inspiration from the art and culture of classical antiquity of ancient Greece and Rome, classicism developed in the mid 18th century in western Europe (primarily in France and England) in opposition to the then-dominant Rococo esthetics. Generally, the classicist style was associated with harmony, restraint, and adherence to recognized "classical" standards of form, beauty, and craftsmanship. It promoted such characteristics of a work of art or literature as symmetry, decorum, harmony, and idealism. This style was linked, on the one hand, with the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, and, on the other hand, with the dominance of an imperial political order. Classicism came to Ukraine from central and southern Europe in the second half of the 18th century. Politically and culturally, this was the time of Ukraine's national decline. The processes of Russification and colonization of Ukraine, resulting from the imperialist policies of Catherine II and the dissolution of the Cossack Hetman state, contributed to the denationalization of the potential leaders of Ukraine's cultural life: the nobility and higher clergy. Ukrainian classicist painters had a vital influence on the development of Russian and eastern European painting, but all of them worked and created in Saint Petersburg. Among these painters were Antin Losenko, who introduced the style of classicism to the Russian Empire and founded the historical school at the Russian Academy of Arts; Dmytro H. Levytsky, who was the leading portraitist of his time; and Levytsky's student Volodymyr Borovykovsky, who painted icons and portraits. The masters of decorative painting, which was very typical of the period and was widely used in the palaces in Ukraine, were Hryhorii Stetsenko, Yurii Kozakevych, I. Kosarevsky, and the painter-serf M. Dykov. Vasilii Tropinin (a Russian who spent many years in Podilia), M. Terensky of Peremyshl, and Luka Dolynsky and I. Luchynsky of Lviv were realist painters of the classicist school. Classicism is reflected in the engravings of Hryhorii Srebrenytsky, Mykhailo Kozlovsky, and Volodymyr Borovykovsky and in the autolithographs of I. Shchedrovsky, P. Boklevsky, Kostiantyn Trutovsky, Mykhail Mykeshyn, and others. In sculpture classicism in the Russian Empire was also represented by a Ukrainian, Ivan P. Martos, who worked in Saint Petersburg and Moscow and was the leading artist and teacher at the end of the 18th century, and by Kostiantyn Klymchenko, who worked in Rome. Because of the innate nature of this artistic style, the works of classicist painters, sculptors, and architects are devoid of national traits so the works of Ukrainian masters of the classicist style were easily appropriated by the Russian imperial culture. Classicism survived in Ukraine until the middle of the 19th century, when it turned into academism... Learn more about the Ukrainain master artists of the classicist style by visiting the following entries:

CLASSICISM. In the art of the 18th century the term classicism denoted a certain general style connected with the esthtic ideals of classical Greek and Roman cultures and with works of art whose simplicity and severity of form contrasted with the decorativeness of the baroque. Its influence was felt first in Western Ukraine, where it manifested itself mainly in the architecture of palaces and villas, such as the palace of the Ossolinskis in Lviv (now the Lviv National Scientific Library of Ukraine), built in 1827 by the Swiss architect P. Nobile, or the palace in Vyshnivets in the Ternopil region. Later these kinds of buildings were built in central and eastern Ukraine by Italian, French, English, and German architects. The largest number of the finest examples of architectural classicism have been preserved in the Chernihiv region: the palace of Count Petro Zavadovsky in Lialychi designed by Giacomo Quarenghi in 1794-5; the building of Mykhailo P. Myklashevsky in Nyzhnie (second half of the 18th century), V. Darahan's residence in Kozelets; and the palaces of a patron of classicism, Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky, in Pochep (built in 1796 by Oleksii Yanovsky) and in Baturyn (built in 1799-1803 according to the design of C. Cameron). The classicist style was also embodied in numerous manor houses, churches, and town buildings throughout Ukraine. The most typical buildings of the 19th century in this style are the palaces in the village of Murovani Kurylivtsi (1805); the buildings of the Sofiivka Park near Uman (1796-1805); P. Galagan's palace in Sokyryntsi, designed by P. Dubrovsky in 1829; the Bezborodko Nizhyn Lyceum, designed by L. Rusca in 1824; the Kyiv University building, designed by Vincent Beretti in 1837-42; the new building of the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, designed by Andrei Melensky in 1822-5; and the cathedral in Sevastopol, built in 1843. In these buildings classicism was often combined with the Empire style, which was closely related to it...


LOSENKO, ANTIN, b 10 August 1737 in Hlukhiv, Nizhyn regiment, Hetman state, d 4 December 1773 in Saint Petersburg. Painter; a leading exponent of historical painting in the classicist style. He studied in the Hlukhiv Singing School and was brought to Saint Petersburg to sing in the imperial court choir in the late 1740s. After his voice changed, he was sent to study art under Ivan Argunov (1753–8) and at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (1758–60). Recognized for his exceptional talent, Losenko was promised a bursary to study in Paris where he arrived in 1760 and studied under Jean II Restout, but his stay there was cut short in 1762 when the imperial bureaucrats failed to send him his promised stipend. In Paris Losenko painted his first masterpiece The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (1762). In 1766-9 Losenko studied in Rome where he painted, among others, Cain (1768) and Abel (1769). After he was awarded several medals from the Paris Academy of Arts, Losenko's achievements were also recognized in Saint Petersburg. He became a member of and professor at the Saint Petersburg Academy in 1770, served as its director (1772-3), and wrote its textbook on human proportions (1772). Losenko’s oeuvre includes paintings on biblical and mythological themes; paintings on historical themes, such as Grand Prince Volodymyr and Rohnida (1770); portraits of prominent personalities; a self-portrait; and some 200 drawings of nude figures and parts of the body, which were held up as models of excellence to students at the academy for many years. Losenko introduced to the art of the Russian Empire the classicist pompier style of painting and was the first painter to depict in this style, in addition to the traditional mythological and biblical motifs, also themes from the history of Kyivan Rus'. Most of his works are preserved at the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. Only his Abel is housed in Ukraine, in the Kharkiv Art Museum...

Antin Losenko

LEVYTSKY, DMYTRO, b 1735 in Kyiv, d 16 April 1822 in Saint Petersburg. The most prominent portraitist of the classicist era in the Russian Empire. He acquired his basic training from his father, Kyiv painter and master engraver Hryhorii K. Levytsky, whom he helped to do engravings for the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press. In 1753-6 he assisted his father and Aleksei Antropov in decorating Saint Andrew's Church in Kyiv. From 1758 to 1761 he worked in Saint Petersburg, where he likely studied with Antropov, L.-J.-F. Lagren?, and G. Valeriani. From 1762, while living in Moscow he was a portraitist in great demand among the Russian aristocracy. He moved to Saint Petersburg in 1769, and he won the highest award at the summer exhibition in 1770 held by the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts and was elected a member of the academy. Together with a number of his Ukrainian compatriots in Saint Petersburg, Levytsky was an active Freemason and member of Saint Petersburg's Masonic lodge. A teacher of portraiture at the academy (1771-88), he retired to Ukraine in 1788, but in 1795 he returned to Saint Petersburg to become portraitist at the imperial court. Building on the baroque, classicism, and Western European traditions, Levytsky created a school of portrait painting. His portraits reveal his expert knowledge of drawing, composition, color, and the appropriate gesture. He executed over 100 portraits, including ones of Empress Catherine II, other members of the Russian imperial family, King Stanislaus I Leszczynski, the French encyclopedist Denis Diderot, and his own father, Hryhorii K. Levytsky. One of his paintings is in the permanent collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Many Ukrainian and Russian portraitists studied with Levytsky at the academy, and his works influenced the second most prominent portraitist of this period in the Russian Empire, Volodymyr Borovykovsky...

Dmytro Levytsky

BOROVYKOVSKY, VOLODYMYR, b 4 August 1757 in Myrhorod, Myrhorod regiment, Hetman state, d 18 April 1825 in Saint Petersburg. Iconographer and portrait painter, son of Luka Borovyk (d 1775) who was a Cossack fellow of the banner and an iconographer. Borovykovsky was trained in art by his father and uncle and then in 1788 went to study portrait painting under Dmytro H. Levytsky at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1793 he became an academician there. Until 1787 Borovykovsky lived and worked in Ukraine. During his career he painted many churches, icons, and iconostases, only some of which have been preserved: the icons of Christ (1784) and the Virgin Mary (1784 and 1787), now in Kyiv, the icon of SS Thomas and Basil (1770s, in Myrhorod), the iconostases and wall paintings in the village churches in Kybyntsi in the Poltava region and Ichnia in the Chernihiv region, and others. Borovykovsky's religious art departed from the established norms of Byzantine iconography in the Russian Empire and tended towards a realistic approach. In Saint Petersburg Borovykovsky painted about 160 portraits, among them Ukrainian public figures, such as Dmytro Troshchynsky (1819). Among the large number of official portraits he painted are the full-figure portraits of Catherine II (1794) and Paul I (1800). At the beginning of the 1790s Borovykovsky began to paint miniatures and portraits of women in the Ukrainian iconographic style. Adhering to the spirit of classicism, he promoted West European traditions through his art; in his later works he introduced the style of Sentimentalism and proto-Romanticism in painting. The largest number of Borovykovsky's works can be found in the museums of Saint Petersburg and Moscow. In Ukraine they can be seen in the museums of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Poltava, Dnipro, Kherson, and Simferopol...

Volodymyr Borovykovsky

MARTOS, IVAN, b ca 1754 in Ichnia, Pryluky regiment, Hetman state, d 17 April 1835 in Saint Petersburg. Sculptor; father of Oleksander Martos. Born into a Cossack starshyna family of the Poltava region, Martos studied at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (1764-73) and in Rome under Antonio Canova (1774-9), where he became a proponent of Classicist style of sculpture. He taught at the Saint Petersburg Academy (1779-1835; as senior professor from 1794) and served as its rector (1814-35). Martos created numerous sculptures in Russia and Ukraine, including the burial monuments of Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovsky in Baturyn (1803-5) and Count Petr Rumiantsev at the Kyivan Cave Monastery (1797–1805) and statues of Count Armand-Emmanuel du Plessis duc de Richelieu in Odesa (1823-8), Emperor Alexander I in Tahanrih (1828-31), and Prince Grigorii Potemkin in Kherson (1829-36). His works are noted for their monumental, but restrained and lucid classicist form that conform to the Classical ideal of beauty and idealize the virtues of courage, patriotism, and civic duty. His work had a considerable influence on many sculptors in the Russian Empire in the first half of the 19th century...

Ivan Martos

DOLYNSKY, LUKA, b ca 1745 in Bila Tserkva, d 10 March 1824 in Lviv. Painter. Orphaned during the time of the haidamaka uprisings in Right-Bank Ukraine, Dolynsky found support with the Uniate metropolitan of Kyiv Pylyp Volodkovych who recognized his talent and sent him to Lviv to Metropolitan Lev Sheptytsky who became Dolynsky's mentor. Dolynsky studied with Yurii Radylovsky in Lviv in 1770-1 and was later sent to study at the Vienna Academy of Arts (1775-7). In 1777 he settled permanently in Lviv, where he worked as a church artist and portraitist. He painted the interior of Saint George's Cathedral (1770-1 and 1777), decorating the iconostasis and the side altars. In the 1780s and 1790s he decorated various churches in Lviv, including the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, and the Church of Good Friday in Lviv, and churches in nearby villages. In 1807 and 1810 he painted and gilded the Dormition Cathedral of the Pochaiv Monastery, and in 1820-1 the iconostasis and murals in Saint Onuphrius's Church in Lviv. Dolynsky painted portraits of Prince Lev Danylovych (1770-1), Maria Theresa and Joseph II (1775-7), Metropolitan Fylyp Volodkovych, and others. In combining classical and original Ukrainian stylistic features, he departed from the Lviv guild tradition of icon painting...

Luka Dolynsky

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