In the first half of the 19th century realism began to replace classicism in Ukrainian art, but an eclectic artistic movement referred to as academism continued to flourish, as it did in other parts of Europe, almost to the end of the century. Academism was a style of painting and sculpture produced under the influence of European academies or universities. Most notably, academism was influenced by the standards of the French Academie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, whose representatives followed the movements of Classicism and Romanticism in an attempt to create a synthesis of these styles and traditions. In this context, academism may also be referred to as 'L'art pompier' or 'eclecticism.' Another trend during this period, referred to as 'historicism,' focussed on producing stylized paintings on historical themes aiming to represent the era in history that the painting depicted. Academism also placed particular importance on allegory in art since paintings were desired to embody an 'idee,' a full and complete idea. Opposed to realism, academism strived toward elevated idealism in art, often choosing religious, or even more frequently, mythological themes and motifs as subject matter for paintings. Many Ukrainian artists of the first half of the 19th century, such as those who studies in the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts under the famous academist painter Karl Briullov, were strongly influenced by academism. However, from the 1840s on, many Ukrainian artists turned away from the dogmatism and narrow limits of academism and adopted other styles. For example, Taras Shevchenko, the national bard of Ukraine who was a painter and engraver by profession, began to produce realistic depictions of scenes from the daily life of the peasantry and from Ukrainian history. A number of his followers adopted this approach, eventually giving rise to a Ukrainian ethnographic school of genre painting. Other Ukrainian painters cofounded the realist art movement of the so-called Peredvizhniki who desired to produce popular art and organized regular traveling exhibitions throughout the Russian Empire... Learn more about academism in 19th-century Ukrainian painting by visiting the following entries:

ACADEMISM. Art movement based on ancient Greek esthetics and on the dogmatic imitation of primarily classical art forms. Academism first arose in the art academies of Italy in the 16th century and then in France; later it spread to other countries. Art academies were founded in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Saint Petersburg, Munich, Cracow, and other cities. Many Ukrainian artists graduated from these schools; for example, Antin Losenko, Ivan Buhaievsky-Blahodarny, Ivan Soshenko, Taras Shevchenko, Dmytro Bezperchy, Volodymyr Orlovsky, Apollon Mokrytsky, Ivan Aivazovsky, Kornylo Ustyianovych, and Teofil Kopystynsky. As advanced schools of art theory and practice, the academies played a positive role in the development of these artists, but eventually their conservatism and dogmatism, their restriction of artistic freedom, and their narrow limits on the selection of theme and formal means (composition, color, technique) called forth a strong reaction among progressive artists. These artists organized their own art groups with anti-academic programs, such as the romantics, the Peredvizhniki, the impressionists, and the Secessionists. Ukrainians--for example, Taras Shevchenko, Mykola Ge, Ivan Kramskoi, Oleksander Lytovchenko, Mykola Bodarevsky, Mykola Pymonenko, and Mykola Yaroshenko, and in time the Ukrainian impressionists--participated in this reaction too. The principles of academism were later revived in the 20th century in Soviet art in Ukraine and primarily manifested itself in socialist-realist portraiture, which was photographically accurate and conformed to officially approved models...


MOKRYTSKY, APOLLON, b 12 August 1810 in Pyriatyn, Poltava gubernia, d 8 or 9 March 1870 in Moscow. Painter; full member of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1849. He studied painting under Kapiton Pavlov at the Nizhyn Lyceum and under Oleksii Venetsianov and Karl Briullov in Saint Petersburg (1830-9). In spite of financial hardships, Mokrytsky successfully completed his course of study at the academy thanks, to a large extent, to the support of his Ukrainian compatriot Vasyl Hryhorovych. After working in Ukraine and visiting Italy Mokrytsky was appointed a professor at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (1851-70). His students included Ivan Shyshkin and Kostiantyn Trutovsky. Many of Mokrytsky's paintings, particularly the early ones, are executed in the style of academism. His later works, including portraits of Yevhen Hrebinka (1840) and Nikolai Gogol, a self-portrait (1840), and Italian landscapes, are painted in a lucid, realist style. Mokrytsky played an important role in the process of purchasing Taras Shevchenko's freedom; he introduced Shevchenko to influential Russian and Ukrainian intellectuals in Saint Petersburg, in particular, his teachers, artists Briullov and Venetsianov, and poet Vasilii Zhukovsky, who later helped to secure Shevchenko's freedom from serfdom. Mokrytsky left a diary (published in 1975) containing, among other things, information about Shevchenko...

Apollon Mokrytsky

SHEVCHENKO, TARAS, b 9 March 1814 in Moryntsi, Zvenyhorod county, Kyiv gubernia, d 10 March 1861 in Saint Petersburg. Ukraine's national bard and famous artist. Born a serf, at the age of 14 Shevchenko became a houseboy of his owner, P. Engelhardt, and served him in Vilnius and then Saint Petersburg. Shevchenko spent his free time sketching statues in the capital's summer gardens. There he met the Ukrainian artist Ivan Soshenko, who introduced him to other compatriots, such as Apollon Mokrytsky, and to the painter Oleksii Venetsianov. Shevchenko later met the famous Russian painter Karl Briullov, who donated his painting as the prize in a lottery whose proceeds were used to buy Shevchenko's freedom in 1838. Soon after, Shevchenko enrolled in the Imperial Academy of Arts and studied there under Briullov's supervision. Although Shevchenko is known primarily because of his poetry, he was also an accomplished artist; 835 of his art works are extant, and another 270 of his known works have been lost. Trained in the style of academism, Shevchenko moved beyond stereotypical historical and mythological subjects to realistic depictions often expressing veiled criticism of the absence of personal, social, and national freedom under tsarist domination. His portraits have a broad social range of subjects, from simple peasants to prominent Ukrainian and Russian cultural figures and members of the imperial nobility. His portraits are remarkable for the way Shevchenko uses light to achieve sensitive three-dimensional modeling. He also painted and drew numerous landscapes. On 2 September 1860 the Imperial Academy of Arts recognized Shavchenko's mastery by designating him an academician-engraver...

Taras Shevchenko

AIVAZOVSKY, IVAN, b 29 July 1817 in Teodosiia, Tavriia gubernia, d 5 May 1900 in Teodosiia. Painter of seascapes, landscapes, and genre paintings. Aivazovsky was descended from a family of Galician Armenians who had settled in the Crimea. He began to study art in Simferopol and completed his artistic education (in 1833-7) at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. In the early 1840s he travelled widely through Italy, France, England, the Netherlands, and the Ottoman Empire, and gained high reputation for his masterfully executed seascapes. He become an academician of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1845 and an honorary member of the academy in 1887 (he was also a member of four other academies). In 1845 Aivazovsky settled in Teodosiia. He produced some 6,000 paintings, depicting mainly scenes on the Black Sea and turbulent seascapes and numerous Ukrainian landscapes. During his student years Aivazovsky often traveled in Ukraine with Vasilii Shternberg. In 1880 Aivazovsky established an artists' studio and picture gallery in Teodosiia, which he donated later to the city. The Aivazovsky Picture Gallery in Teodosiia houses some 400 of his works, as well as paintings by Crimean seascape artists and a small collection of seascapes by Western artists. Following the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014, some 40 of Aivazovsky's paintings have been removed by the Russian occupation authorities from his gallery in Teodosiia and transferred to the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow...

Ivan Aivazovsky

GE, MYKOLA (also: Gay, Gue), b 27 February 1831 in Voronezh, d 13 April 1894 at Ivanovskyi khutir, Bakhmach county, Chernihiv gubernia. Painter of mixed French and Ukrainian origin. Ge studied at Kyiv University (1847) and Saint Petersburg University (1848-9), and at the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts (1850-7), where he later became a professor in 1863. Initially, Ge's style of painting was strongly influenced by his teacher Karl Briullov and the principles of academism taught at the Saint Petersburg Academy. In fact, he was one of the leading representatives of academism in the 1850s. In 1856 he received the Academy's Gold Medal for his painting Saul and the Witch of Endor, executed in the academic style. In 1857 he travelled to Western Europe and in 1860 he settled in Italy where he lived, with interruptions, until 1870. Influenced by works of Italian Renaissance masters, Ge continued to paint compositions on Biblical themes, but he also executed numerous landscapes and some portraits. Upon his return to Saint Petersburg in 1870, Ge painted several works on historical subjects and numerous portraits of prominent cultural and political figures, including that of his former teacher Mykola Kostomarov. At that time he became one of the founders of the Russian Society of Itinerant Art Exhibitions, but did not adopt the predominant naturalist style of the Peredvizhniki painters. In 1876 Ge returned to Ukraine where he settled at his estate in Chernihiv gubernia and remained there until his death. There he produced his famous cycle of paintings on New Testament themes...

Mykola Ge

KOPYSTYNSKY, TEOFIL, b 15 April 1844 in Peremyshl, Galicia, d 5 July 1916 in Lviv. Monumentalist painter and portraitist. A graduate of the Cracow School of Fine Arts (1871) and the Vienna Academy of Art (1872), he spent his life painting churches, iconostases, and icons in Lviv and the surrounding villages. His more important works have been preserved: the murals of the wooden church in Batiatychi, the altar icon of the Transfiguration in the Church of the Transfiguration in Lviv, The Crucifixion (1902) in Saints Cyril and Methodius's Church in Sokolia near Busk, the murals (1911-12) of Saint Michael's Church in Rudnyky, and the iconostases in the churches in Zhovtantsi, Batiatychi, Zhydachiv, Myklashiv (1908), and Synevidsko Vyzhnie. He was also recognized as a restorer and conservator of old art. From 1878 to 1899 Kopystynsky restored a number of religious masterpieces. In 1888 he cleaned and restored 150 old Ukrainian icons at the Stauropegion Institute's museum in Lviv. Kopystynsky established a reputation as a master portraitist and from 1872 to 1895 he painted 17 portraits of prominent Ukrainian social and cultural figures of the 19th century, as well as Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny and Metropolitan Petro Mohyla. Kopystynsky was also a leading book illustrator in Western Ukraine. He taught drawing in secondary schools in Lviv and participated in the exhibitions of the Society of Friends of the Fine Arts...

Teofil Kopystynsky

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