Monument to  T.SHEVCHENKO in Kharkiv


The Unveiling of the Monument


  The Will



When I'll die,I wish to be buried
In the land of Ukraine,
In my dear old Mother country,
Wide Ukrainian plain.


Where the fields are wide and fair,
Where the Dnieper is near,
Where high hills rise like towers,
River's roar I'll can hear...


Bury me, then rise yourselves,
Break your chains in wrestles,
irrigate your own freedom
By the blood of oppressors!


Oh, freedom-loving people,
Don't forget in new large world
Make the mention about me
By a warm and gentle word.


March, 24, 1935. A great holiday in Kharkov: the unveiling of the monument to the great son of the Ukrainian people Taras Shevchenko (1814 - 1861), the revolutionary-democrat, the ardent fighter against tsarizm and serfdom was taking place. Red banners decorated the city. People filled in Sumska street, adjacent streets and Dzerzhisky square...

2 o'clock p.m. The trumpets sound. The veil goes down. All who gathered see the monument's multifigured sculptural composition crowned by the Kobzar statue. The sounds of "International" are heard. Then a large chorus sings Shevchenko's "Will"...

The meeting begins. Greetings and addresses are read. Yanka Kupala, a national poet of Byelorussia recites his poetry dedicated to the national poet of the Ukraine...




  Taras'es Fate


Why Taras'es song had echoed
Like the fair music
In the heart of Byelorussians?
What a beauty sound!
How the Ukrainian wind
Flied with winged ballad
To the Byelorussian land
And filled all around?
Just the fate of Byelorussia
Close by one's of Ukraine
Walked along the thorny road,
Slave road, full of pain.
Both they were carrying yoke,
From the birth till deathbed,
And were waiting with great hope
For the time of daybreak.
Only our ancient barrows
Keep that sorrowful legend,
How they lived in toils and troubles,
How lost their forces.
Oh, Taras, if   you'd wake up,
Stood up from your grave,
If you'd, our dear Kobzar,
Cast your glance at Ukraine !
Now your free land is spread
In the rays of the  sun
And there's no any slave,
Neither father no son.
...And there's no any mention
'bout sorrow and pain.
Oh, Kobzar, if you'd look now
At your native Ukraine!


(Traslation from Byelorussian)



Forever in People's Memory...

Taras Shevchenko came from serf peasants and was deeply linked with the people by the ardent word of a poet, by a sharp pencil of an artist expressed their thoughts and feelings, defended their interests.

T.Shevchenko's works were loved by the people of different nationalities who inhabited our country. His main poetry collection book was titled "Kobzar". It means "the folk singer of ukrainian ballads". Very many kobzars were singing for many centuries about hard life of people of Ukraine and expressed their dreams about liberty. This book became the favorite one for all Ukrainians and the poet was named Kobzar after it. Now our Kobzar has been translated into dozens of foreign languages.

The autocratic government of tsarist Russia made everything possible to erase T.Shevchenko's name from people's memory, suppressed all attempts to immortalize in sculpture the image of the poet of genius. In 1860 the tsar personally prohibited the disposing of Shevchenko's bas-relief at the monument "Russia's Millennium" to famous Russian sculptor M.O.Mikeshin. Tsarist satraps frustrated the subscription organized through the whole of Russia to raise funds for erecting a monument to the poet in 1891. In spite of that, several first sculpture portraits of T.Shevchenko were created at the end of his life and soon after his death. Among those that we have extinct today is a sculpture portrait of Taras Grigoryevich created by M.S.Pimenov when Shevchenko was sitting to him. A classical representation of the poet - naked bust positioned on a rectangular basis - was created in 1862 by a well known Russian sculptor F.F.Kamensky. Between 60's and 70's the Ukrainian sculptor P.P.Zabila created marble and bronze busts of T.G.Shevchenko.

The first monument in the country,  the bust in marble, to the great Kobzar was set up illegally in 1899 in Kharkov. It was situated in the garden near the house of Alchevskaya, who was the famous progressive benefactress, the founder of female Sunday school for adults. Its author was the kharkivite, a prominent Russian sculptor, professor of the St-Petersburg Academy of Arts V.A.Beklemishev. The students often gathered at this monument, poets-beginners recited their poetry here full of faith in the bright future of the people. In 1901 on the eve of the 40-th anniversary since T.Shevchenko's death the bust was removed by the "imperial instructions": the government was afraid of people's riot.

To the centenary since the poet's birth the progressive public of Russia organized the raising  of money for the monument to T.Shevchenko in Kiev. This event became a matter of nationwide character. From 1909 to 1914 four competitions for the best project of a monument with participation of many well-known Russian sculptors were held. But the monument was not erected. A wave of indignation ran over the country. The more the reaction raged, the more actively the people asserted its rights to the memory of a beloved poet. Unknown craftsmen carved his portraits on the rocks, skilled hands of embroideresses adorned towels with Kobzar's images, folk singers and musicians made songs about T.Shevchenko, composed music to his verses.

After the October revolution motioned by Lenin the Soviet government issued the decree about monuments. In accordance with this decree there had to be erected monuments to well known revolutionaries, scientists and people of arts, among which was the Ukrainian poet, democratic revolutionary T. G. Shevchenko.

In 1918, a monument to the Kobzar by the Latvian sculptor Y.Tilberg was set up in Petrograd. The plinth bears the inscription "To the great Ukrainian serf poet Taras Grigoryevich Shevchenko - 1814 - 1861. The Great Russian Nation - 1918". At the same time the well known Russian sculptor S. M. Volnukhin (who had been the winner of the competition for the best monument to be erected in Kiev which was forbidden by the Tsarist government) created a monument to T.G.Shevchenko in Moscow. A bust monument to the poet (by B.M.Kratko) was unveiled in 1919 in Kiev. During the next twenty years monuments to T.G.Shevchenko by F.P.Balavensky, I.P.Kavaleridze, B.M.Kratko, and other sculptors were erected in many cities of the country.

One of them - magnificent and unique - beautified the Kharkov City. Its authors are the People's Artist of the USSR, Honoured Art Worker of Ukraine, Member of the Academy of arts of the USSR sculptor M.G.Manizer (1891 - 1966) and Honoured Art Worker of Belorus, Doctor of Architecture I.G.Langbard (1882-1951).


From the History of  the Monument Creation


M.G.Manizer had passion for the monumental sculpture since the years of teaching in St-Petersburg Academy of Arts. In 1920 he created the impressive relief named "Worker". This relief won the competition for the emblem of Moscow Permanent Industrial Exhibition. In 1924 the bronze monuments to Lenin were unveiled in Kirovograd, Samara, Khabarovsk, Pushkin by Manizer's projects. He created the project of monument dedicated to "Victims of January the 9th, 1905". M.G.Manizer showed the deep knowledge on history of people's revolutionary fight and ability to embody the generalized images of participants of great events in V.I.Chapaev Monument for Samara city. He came to the competition in 1929 for the best T.G.Shevchenko monument in Kharkov as the mature artist, the discoverer of great human ideas in individual realistic images.

Working at project, Manizer made the traveling by places associated with Shevchenko's life and poetry, created the great number of landscape and genre etudes. He studied the Shevchenko's correspondence and portraits very carefully. Self-portrait of poet, his few photographic pictures and the death mask were the most valuable for sculptor. Many times Manizer read  "Kobzar" and memorial literature. "Every day brought something new, interesting and very important, - the sculptor told, - and Taras was becoming more and more close and native. Sometimes I imagined yet the Shevchenko so vividly - his growth, walk, expression of eyes and face, that it seemed to me I shouldn't surprise to meet him in the street!"

It was not at once that the sculptor came to the image of Shevchenko as a fighter. Only the third variation of a project (1933) satisfied him and won the first place at All-Union competition.

The author of projects of a number of largest public buildings in Byelorussia I.G.Langbard perfectly solved the architectural part of the monument having subjugated the form of pedestal to the author's lofty and artistic conception.  

The statures of the monument were cast by the best Leningrad founders. Ukrainian as well as Russian craftsman worked together at the erection of a pedestal to the Great Kobzar. Due to the efforts of many artists, sculptors, actors and builders the monument was made during one year.


General composition and details of the monument


The monument is a multifigured composition. Every part of it is being looked through gradually in the process of acquaintance with the monument and at the same time the last one is perceived as the integral whole.
The bronze figure of T.Shevchenko is towering on the granite three-edged pylon over 16 figures which stand on the projections of the architectural spiral which twines round the eleven meter high pylon. These figures symbolize the continuous raising of the people's struggle against oppressors - from rebellious images of Shevchenko's works to participants of the First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907 and the October Revolution. The final group of sculptures - coal-miner, collective farmer and the young woman-student - glorifies free labour and youth of new Ukraine.

A mighty figure of the Kobzar  (5,5 meters high), dominates over the monument. The statue is full of dynamics. Resoluteness, powerful inner force are seen in the whole statue: in a slightly bent head, in the energetic gesture of the right hand clenched in a fist. The brightly expressed sculpture is relief silhouetted in space  -  it may be learned easily even from the large distance. The severe, merged suit folds, laconic forms, energetic processing of surface by large generalized planes created the might image. Author use more detailed manner only in the face modeling which helps him to achieve the portrait likeness, to reveal the inward world, to express the firmness and high spirit of poet-fighter. His stare is severe and angry. The strong-willed wrinkle between eyebrows throws the deep shadow at his eyes strengthening the emotional condensing of image. Wrinkles  - the bitterness of thoughts - cross the high forehead of thinker :

       Oh, thoughts, my thoughts,
       You are my misfortune!..
The angry gesture of his right hand, firmly clenched in the fist, emphasize the indignation degree of brave fighter which calls the people:
       Break your chains in wrestles,
       ²rrigate your own freedom
       By the blood of opressors!
The great poet-democrat was fighting for the liberation of his people from social and national oppression, believed in its wonderful future. This is convincingly shown in the monument.

The figures which twine round the pedestal are two times smaller than that of the stature of Shevchenko. They are seen better from a short distance. Actors of Kharkov theatre "Beresil", later People's Artists of the Soviet Union N.M.Uzhviy, A.M.Buchma, I.A.Maryanenko, A.I.Serdyuk and other outstanding masters of the Ukrainian stage helped the sculptor very much in creating the figures similar to Shevchenko's images.

"They were perfect artists! -  M.G.Manizer remembered later.- I'll appreciate their help till the end of my life..."
The examination of figures must be accomplished, by sculptor conception, in accordance with the compositional spiral (starting from "Katerina" figure and moving opposite the clockwise direction). So, let's begin:


The sculptor achieved the plastic unity, harmony, wonderful coordination of all monument groups and figures because of deep penetrating into the epoch and into the personage characters, because of capacity to subordinate his creative manner to the main idea. Every statue appears logically and naturally in exactly founded place on the new step of architectural spiral surrounding the pylon with Kobzar figure. All they have classic proportions, carefully thought about poses and gestures, which show the characters variety as well as demonstrate the conceptual unity of the monument. The multifigured composition is expressed in epic, calm, solemn rhythm. The pedestal of the monument is made of polished labradorite, the statues are made of dark bronze  - all this make the monument more expressive and majestic.    
Today we can hardly imagine Kharkov without the Shevchenko monument. This monument is inseparable from the surrounding park area named after T.G.Shevchenko and the city's architectural integrity. There is a strong concordance between multilevel shapes of the monument and bold ledges of the magnificent edifices of the Derzhprom building and Kharkov State University. The monument faces the main city thoroughfare - the Sumskaya street. From his elevated position Kobzar is looking at the city and its dwellers, and it seems like he is alive again and is entering our life. Below him life is in full swing: the brass band gives a performance, the war veterans, students come to the park, guided tours are led by, young people appoint meetings, children - those who will have to look after the city in the next millennium - play near the monument in the park...  


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