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|Born||Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko
Тара́с Григо́рович Шевче́нко
March 9 [O.S. February 25] 1814
Moryntsi, Kyiv Governorate, Russian Empire (now Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine)
|Died||March 10 [O.S. February 26] 1861 (age 47)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Occupation||Poet and artist|
Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (Ukrainian: Тара́с Григо́рович Шевче́нко, Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko; March 9 [O.S. February 25] 1814 – March 10 [O.S. February 26] 1861) was a Ukrainian poet and artist. He is also known under the book name Kobzar. That was his most famous literary work, a collection of poems entitled Kobzar. His literary heritage is regarded to be the foundation of modern Ukrainian literature and, to a large extent, the modern Ukrainian language. Shevchenko is also known for many masterpieces as a painter and an illustrator.
Born into a serf peasant family of Hryhoriy Ivanovych Shevchenko (1782? – 1825) and Kateryna Yakymivna Shevchenko (Boiko) (1782? – August 6, 1823) of Cossack descent in the village of Moryntsi, of Kyiv Governorate of the Russian Empire (now in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine) Shevchenko grew up in the neighboring village of Kyrylivka that today carries the name Shevchenkove. The Shevchenko family moved to Kyrylivka soon after the birth of Taras. Two years later in Kyrylivka, Taras's sister Yaryna was born. In the fall of 1822 Taras started to take some grammar classes at a local Dyak. On September 1, 1823 Taras' mother passed away. A month later his father married Oksana Tereshchenko. Tereshchenko already had three children. In 1824 Taras, along with his father, became a traveling merchant (chumak). At the age of eleven Taras became an orphan when, in the spring of 1825, his father died a serf in corvée.
Newly arrived in Kyiv as an apprentice, Taras went to work for Dyak Bohorsky. Soon tired of enduring Bohorsky's mistreatment, Shevchenko ran away to seek out a painting master in the surrounding villages. For several days he worked for Deacon Yefrem in Lysianka, later in other places around in southern Kyiv Governorate. In 1827 Shevchenko herded community sheeps near his village. He then meets Oksana Kovalenko, a childhood friend, whom Shevchenko mentions in his works on multiple occasions. Shevchenko went as a household servant with his Russian aristocrat lord Pavel Engelhardt to Vilnius (1828–31) and then to Saint Petersburg.
"Engelhardt noticed Shevchenko's artistic talent, and apprenticed him in Vilnius to 
In the same year Shevchenko was accepted as a student into the Academy of Arts in the workshop of The Beggar Boy Giving Bread to a Dog.
He began writing poetry while he was a serf and in 1840 his first collection of poetry, Kobzar, was published. Ivan Franko, the renowned Ukrainian poet in the generation after Shevchenko, had this to say of the compilation: "[Kobzar] immediately revealed, as it were, a new world of poetry. It burst forth like a spring of clear, cold water, and sparkled with a clarity, breadth and elegance of artistic expression not previously known in Ukrainian writing".
In 1841, the epic poem Haidamaky was released. In September 1841, Shevchenko was awarded his third Silver Medal for The Gypsy Fortune Teller. Shevchenko also wrote plays. In 1842, he released a part of the tragedy Mykyta Haidai and in 1843 he completed the drama Nazar Stodolia.
While residing in Saint Petersburg, Shevchenko made three trips to the regions of Ukraine, in 1843, 1845, and 1846. The difficult conditions under which his countrymen lived had a profound impact on the poet-painter. Shevchenko visited his still enserfed siblings and other relatives, met with prominent Ukrainian writers and intellectuals such as: Yevhen Hrebinka, Panteleimon Kulish, and Mykhaylo Maksymovych, and was befriended by the princely Repnin family especially Varvara Repnina.
In 1844, distressed by the condition of Ukrainian regions in the Picturesque Ukraine.
On March 22, 1845, the Council of the Academy of Arts granted Shevchenko the title of an artist. He again travelled to Ukraine where he met historian Nikolay Kostomarov and other members of the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, a Pan-Slavist political society dedicated to the political liberalization of the Empire and transforming it into a federation-like polity of Slavic nations. Upon the society's suppression by the authorities, Shevchenko was arrested along with other members on April 5, 1847. Although he probably was not an official member of the Brotherhood, during the search his poem "The Dream" ("Son") was found. This poem attacked Slavophilism, personally attacked Emperor Nicholas I and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, and therefore was considered extremely inflammatory, and of all the members of the dismantled society Shevchenko was punished most severely. The Tsar was about to pardon Shevchenko, since literature was not as bad as violent opposition, which he also faced (Decembrist uprising etc.). Then, however, Tsar Nicholas read Shevchenko's poem, "The Dream". Vissarion Belinsky wrote in his memoirs that, Nicholas I, knowing Ukrainian very well, laughed and chuckled whilst reading the section about himself, but his mood quickly turned to bitter hatred when he read about his wife. Shevchenko had mocked her frumpy appearance and facial tics, which she had developed whilst fearing the Decembrist Uprising and its plans to kill her family. After reading this section the Tsar indignantly stated "I suppose he had reasons not to be on terms with me, but what has she done to deserve this?"
Shevchenko was imprisoned in Saint Petersburg. He was exiled as a private with the Russian military Orenburg garrison at Orsk, near the Ural Mountains. Tsar Nicholas I, confirming his sentence, added to it, "Under the strictest surveillance, without the right to write or paint."
With the exception of some short periods during his exile, the enforcement of the Tsar's ban on his creative work was lax. The poet produced several drawings and sketches as well as writings while serving and traveling on assignment (in the capacity of a military sketch painter, the idea put forward by fellow serviceman Bronisław Zaleski) in the Ural regions and areas on modern Kazakhstan.
But it was not until 1857 that Shevchenko finally returned from exile after receiving a pardon, though he was not permitted to return to St. Petersburg but was ordered to 
Taras Shevchenko spent the last years of his life working on new poetry, paintings, and engravings, as well as editing his older works. But after his difficult years in exile his final illness proved too much. Shevchenko died in Saint Petersburg on March 10, 1861, the day after his 47th birthday.
He was first buried at the Smolensk Cemetery in Saint Petersburg. However, fulfilling Shevchenko's wish, expressed in his poem "Testament" ("Zapovit"), to be buried in Ukraine, his friends arranged to transfer his remains by train to Moscow and then by horse-drawn wagon to his native land. Shevchenko's remains where buried on May 8 on Chernecha Hill (Monk's Hill; now Taras Hill) by the Dnieper River near Kaniv. A tall mound was erected over his grave, now a memorial part of the Kaniv Museum-Preserve.
Dogged by terrible misfortune in love and life, the poet died seven days before the Emancipation of Serfs was announced. His works and life are revered by Ukrainians and his impact on Ukrainian literature is immense.
Taras Shevchenko has a unique place in Ukrainian cultural history and in world literature. His writings formed the foundation for the modern Ukrainian literature to a degree that he is also considered the founder of the modern written Ukrainian language (although Ivan Kotlyarevsky pioneered the literary work in what was close to the modern Ukrainian in the end of the 18th century.) Shevchenko's poetry contributed greatly to the growth of Ukrainian national consciousness, and his influence on various facets of Ukrainian intellectual, literary, and national life is still felt to this day. Influenced by Romanticism, Shevchenko managed to find his own manner of poetic expression that encompassed themes and ideas germane to Ukraine and his personal vision of its past and future.
In view of his literary importance, the impact of his artistic work is often missed, although his contemporaries valued his artistic work no less, or perhaps even more, than his literary work. A great number of his pictures, drawings and etchings preserved to this day testify to his unique artistic talent. He also experimented with photography and it is little known that Shevchenko may be considered to have pioneered the art of etching in the Russian Empire (in 1860 he was awarded the title of Academician in the Imperial Academy of Arts specifically for his achievements in etching.)
His influence on Ukrainian culture has been so immense, that even during Soviet times, the official position was to downplay strong Ukrainian nationalism expressed in his poetry, suppressing any mention of it, and to put an emphasis on the social and anti-Tsarist aspects of his legacy, the Class struggle within the Russian Empire. Shevchenko, who himself was born a serf and suffered tremendously for his political views in opposition to the established order of the Empire, was presented in the Soviet times as an internationalist who stood up in general for the plight of the poor classes exploited by the reactionary political regime rather than the vocal proponent of the Ukrainian national idea.
This view is significantly revised in modern independent Ukraine, where he is now viewed as almost an iconic figure with unmatched significance for the Ukrainian nation, a view that has been mostly shared all along by the Ukrainian diaspora that has always revered Shevchenko.
There are many monuments to Shevchenko throughout Ukraine, most notably at his memorial in Luhansk and many others.
Outside of Ukraine, monuments to Shevchenko have been put up in several locations of the former USSR associated with his legacy, both in the Soviet and the post-Soviet times. The modern monument in Saint Petersburg was erected on December 22, 2000, but the first monument (pictured) was built in the city in 1918 on the order of Lenin shortly after the Great Russian Revolution. There is also a monument located next to the Shevchenko museum at the square that bears the poet's name in Orsk, Russia (the location of the military garrison where the poet served) where there are also a street, a library and the Orsk Pedagogical Institute|Pedagogical Institute named to the poet. There are Shevchenko monuments and museums in the cities of Kazakhstan where he was later transferred by the military: Aqtau (the city was named Shevchenko between 1964 and 1992) and nearby Fort Shevchenko (renamed from Fort Alexandrovsky in 1939), and a street after him in Vilnius, where he also lived. T.G. Shevchenko University in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, is the main university of that region.
After Ukraine gained its independence in the wake of the 1991 Soviet Collapse, some Ukrainian cities replaced their statues of Lenin with statues of Taras Shevchenko and in some locations that lacked streets named to him, local authorities renamed the streets or squares to Shevchenko. There is also a bilingual Taras Sevchenko high school in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania.
Outside of Ukraine and the former USSR, monuments to Shevchenko have been put up in many countries, usually under the initiative of local Ukrainian diasporas. There are several memorial societies and monuments to him throughout Canada and the United States, most notably the Leo Mol monument in Washington, D.C., near Dupont Circle. The granite monument near Dupont Circle was carved by Vincent Illuzzi of Barre, Vermont. There is also a monument in Soyuzivka in New York State, Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, a park is named after him in Elmira Heights, N.Y. and a street is named after him in New York City's East Village. A section of Connecticut Route 9 that goes through New Britain is also named after Shevchenko.
The town of Vita in Manitoba, Canada was originally named Shevchenko in his honor. There is a Shevchenko Square in Paris located in the heart of the central Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. The Leo Mol sculpture garden in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, contains many images of Taras Shevchenko.
A two-tonne bronze statue of Shevchenko, located in a memorial park outside of Oakville, Ontario was discovered stolen in December 2006. It was taken for scrap metal; the head was recovered in a damaged state, but the statue was not repairable. The head is on exhibit at the Taras Shevchenko Museum & Memorial Park Foundation in Toronto. There is a Shevchenko Boulevard in the Lasalle borough of Montreal, Quebec.
In 2001, the Ukrainian society "Prosvita" raised the initiative of building a Church near the Chernecha Mount in Kaniv, where Taras Shevchenko is buried. The initiative got a rather supportive response in the society. Since then many charity events have been held all over the country to gather donations for the above purpose. A marathon under the slogan "Let’s Build a Church for the Kobzar" by the First National Radio Channel of Ukraine collected 39,000 hryvnias (about US $7,500) in October 2003.
A Taras Shevchenko Museum & Memorial Park Foundation is located in Toronto, Canada. A video tour of the museum was created in March 2010. Among other exhibits, the video tour includes footage of Shevchenko's death mask.
There is a statue of Taras Shevchenko at Ukraine Square in Curitiba, Brazil.
The British band New Order released a live video on Factory Records entitled Taras Shevchenko, recorded in 1981 at the Ukrainian National Home in the East Village of New York City; the initial scenes feature a digitised version of the Shevchenko self-portrait. The video artwork was done by graphic designer Peter Saville. This was later included on their video New Order 3 16.
Shevchenko's "Testament", (Zapovit, 1845), has been translated into more than 60 languages and set to music in the 1870s by H. Hladky. The poem enjoys a status second only to Ukraine’s national anthem.
When I am dead, bury me
When from Ukraine the Dnieper bears
Oh bury me, then rise ye up
Як умру, то поховайте
Як понесе з України
Поховайте та вставайте,
Shevchenko never married; however, he had six siblings and at least three step-siblings, of whom only Stepan Tereshchenko (1820?–unknown) is known. Some sources connect him to the Tereshchenko family of Ukrainian industrialists.
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