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Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine Features: The Art of Ukrainian Baroque Engraving

Marko Robert Stech

February 2013

In Ukraine, from the 11th to the 16th century manuscript books were ornamented with headpieces, initials, tailpieces, and illuminations. Many of these features appeared as well in the first printed books. In the late 16th century Lviv became the first center of printing and graphic art and one of the first influential engravers was Lavrentii Fylypovych-Pukhalsky.

Graphic-art centers also arose at printing presses established in Ostrih, Volhynia, in Striatyn and Krylos in Galicia, and finally in Kyiv at the highly advanced engraving shop of the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press. Beginning in the second half of the 17th century, in addition to religious themes, secular and everyday subjects, portraits, town plans, etc were depicted in graphic form.

Page from Lviv Apostolos (1574)

During the Ukrainian baroque period, which coincided with the Hetman state, engraving became highly developed, utilizing not only new forms, but also allegory, symbolism, heraldry, and very ornate decoration. These characteristics suited the belligerency and dynamism of the Cossack period, whose apogee during the hetmancy of Ivan Mazepa defined the artistic fashion for the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The most famous Kyivan craftsman of the time was the portraitist and illustrator Oleksander Tarasevych (active from 1667 to 1720). Other notable craftsmen were Ivan Shchyrsky, Zakharii Samoilovych, Leontii Tarasevych, Ivan Strelbytsky, and Ivan Myhura, who was known for his very personal style incorporating folk art motifs. In Western Ukraine most prominent master engravers included Dionisii Sinkevych and Nykodym Zubrytsky.

After the defeat of Ivan Mazepa at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, cultural life in Ukraine declined because of Russian political restrictions and the migration of Ukrainian intellectuals and artists to Saint Petersburg. Nevertheless, Kyiv still had such craftsmen as Averkii Kozachkivsky and especially Hryhorii K. Levytsky, the most prominent Ukrainian engraver of the 18th century…

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Master Illia, b and d ? A 17th-century wood engraver. A monk at Saint Onuphrius’s Monastery, in the 1630s he worked as an engraver in Lviv. From 1640 to about 1680 he worked at the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press. During his career he produced about 600 woodcuts for illustrations, title pages, headpieces, and prints. His work decorated such books as the Euchologion of Petro Mohyla (Kyiv 1646), one of the finest examples of Ukrainian book design of the time; the Nomocanon (Lviv 1646); the Kyivan Cave Patericon (Kyiv 1661, 1678); and Lazar Baranovych’s Mech dukhovnyi (The Spiritual Sword, 1666) and Antin Radyvylovsky’s Ohorodok Marii Bohorodytsi (The Garden of Mary, the Mother of God, 1676). Two albums of his woodcuts were published in Kyiv in the 1640s, and a collection of 132 of his biblical illustrations appeared at the end of the 17th century. Illia was a master of the thematic woodcut. His illustrations depict daily life, landscapes, buildings, and famous monks of the Kyivan Cave Monastery…

Tarasevych, Oleksander, 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. Oleksander lived and worked in Hlusk, Belarus, 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, and the Kyivan Cave Monastery. 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. 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…

Tarasevych, Leontii, b ca 1650, probably in Transcarpathia, d 1710 in Kyiv. Master engraver. He and his brother, Oleksander Tarasevych, learned engraving in Augsburg at the workshop of B. and P. Kilian. In 1680-8 he worked in Vilnius, where he engraved illustrations for the Basilian, Franciscan, and Jesuit presses there. From 1688 he worked in Ukraine, first in Chernihiv and then in Kyiv at the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press under the patronage of Metropolitan Varlaam Yasynsky. Tarasevych engraved portraits of prominent Ukrainians, Poles, and Russians, including Hetman Ivan Mazepa; portrayals of the Catholic and Orthodox saints; heraldic and corporation crests; theses of scholarly disputes at the Vilnius Academy and Kyivan Mohyla Academy, decorated with many symbols, allegories, and saints; and book illustrations, notably 45 engravings for the Kyivan Cave Patericon printed by the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press in 1702. Tarasevych helped establish the art of copper engraving in Ukraine and created some of the best works in Ukrainian baroque graphic art…

Schyrsky, Ivan, b ca 1650, most likely in the Chernihiv region, d 1714 in Liubech, Chernihiv regiment. Baroque engraver. He studied engraving under Oleksander Tarasevych at the Vilnius Academy Press (1677–80) and theology and literature at the academy. He worked as a master engraver in Vilnius and then in Chernihiv and Kyiv, where he also taught poetics at the Kyivan Mohyla College. In 1686 he took monastic vows at the Kyivan Cave Monastery, and soon afterward he cofounded the Saint Anthony of the Caves Monastery in Liubech. Shchyrsky created over 100 masterful copper engravings. Those from his Vilnius period included copies of the Czestochowa and other miraculous icons, coats of arms (eg, for Adam Kysil), and pictures of various saints. During his time in Ukraine he created many fine, detailed engravings: illustrations for religious and panegyrical books, coats of arms, the famous engravingLabarum triumphale (1698) for the poetic thesis honoring the rector of the Kyivan Mohyla College; a portrait of Metropolitan Varlaam Yasynsky (1707), and others…

Zubrytsky, Nykodym, b 1688 in the Lviv region, d 1724. Engraver. He worked for the presses in the Krekhiv Monastery, Lviv (1691-1702), and the Pochaiv Monastery (1704) before being invited by Hetman Ivan Mazepa to Kyiv to work in the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press (1705-12). He later moved to Chernihiv and worked for the Chernihiv Press (1712-24). Almost 400 of his engravings have been preserved, including 67 illustrations and ornaments etched in copper for the illustrated philosophical-moralistic book Ifika iieropolitika (1712), some illustrations and ornaments for an edition of the New Testament (1717), and the famous print Turkish Siege of Pochaiv (1704). The themes of his genre prints were often taken from folk stories and legends…

Levytsky, Hryhorii K., b ca 1697 in Maiachka, Poltava regiment, d 19 May 1769 in Maiachka. Baroque master engraver and painter. Levytsky studied engraving in Wroclaw (until 1735). From ca 1738-41 he was an Orthodox priest in Maiachka and continued to do engravings for the Kyivan Cave Monastery Press. Over 40 of his engravings illustrate the press’s Gospel (1737), Psalter (1737), and Apostolos (1737-8 and 1752), the title pages and ornamentation of Kyivan Mohyla Academy students’ theses in verse. He also prepared four engraved boards for Mykhail Kozachynsky’s collection of theses on Aristotle’s philosophy (Lviv 1745), containing portraits, coats of arms, cartouches, allegories, symbols, views of Kyiv’s architectural monuments, genre scenes, and Oleksii Rozumovsky’s family tree. In 1753-6, together with his son, (later famous portraitist) Dmytro H. Levytsky, and Aleksei Antropov, Levytsky painted rococo murals inside Saint Andrew’s Church in Kyiv…

The preparation, editing, and display of the IEU entries about the art of Ukrainian baroque engraving were made possible by the financial support of the Canadian Foundation For Ukrainian Studies.


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