Ivanovich Narbut


Biography and information

George Ivanovich Narbut (February 25, 1886, Narbutovka, Chernihiv province - May 23, 1920, Kiev) - Ukrainian artist, graphic artist, illustrator. One of the organizers and second rector of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts.

Features of the artist George Narbut: the artist’s creativity was based on a love of ancient Ukrainian painting and graphics of the XVII – XVIII centuries. Narbut spent a lot of time studying old manuscripts and prints. A descendant of Lithuanian nobles, the artist thoroughly knew the heraldry of ancient Ukrainian families. His artwork - in particular, "Ukrainian Alphabet" - combined the utmost simplicity of lines and sophistication of composition, clarity of drawing and expressiveness of color. Narbut's style combined the charm of Ukrainian Baroque and Russian classicism, translating their forms into the bizarre language of secession. His teacher and friendIvan Bilibin so spoke of the artist: "... Narbut of the greatest, directly immense size talent ... I consider him the most outstanding, the largest of Russian schedules."

Famous works of the artist George Narbut: "Ukrainian alphabet", the first Ukrainian banknotes and postage stamps, coat of arms of the UPR.

Read also:"Ukrainian Art Nouveau: the style of free artists"

One of the seven children of the servant and daughter of the priest, George early showed creative inclinations. Since 1896, he studied at the gymnasium of the city of Glukhov, where the object of his interest was a book illustration, drawings by Ivan Bilibin, and somewhat later, heraldry. A poor family could not give his son an art education, so the persistent Egor studied himself, copying ancient fonts, initial letters and engravings.

After graduating from high school, together with his brother Vladimir, George moved to St. Petersburg and entered the Faculty of Oriental Languages, but almost immediately transferred to the Faculty of Philology. He organized a circle of art lovers, which attracted the attention of eminent artists. Narbut met his childhood idol, an artist Ivan Bilibinwho settled him in his house and took part in the fate of a talented young man. Bilibin in every possible way encouraged Narbut to get away from copying, look for his own style, gave him a letter of recommendation to Nicholas Roerichwhile heading the school of the Imperial Society for the Promotion of the Arts. Narbut studied for some time withLeo Bakst andMstislav Dobuzhinsky at Zvantseva’s school, and already in 1909 took part in the exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists.

In 1910, George left for Munich, where he studied with famous graphic artists.Shimon Holloshi and Emil Pretorius. Returning to the capital, Narbut became a member of the Art World art association, worked in the Apollon and Herboved magazines, and created illustrations for Andersen's fairy tales and Ivan Krylov’s fables. Heraldry was a great love of the artist - he not only created many emblems, but also thoroughly owned the topic, participating in the publication of historical thematic literature.

In January 1913, Narbut married Vera Pavlovna Kiryakova. A year later, a daughter appeared in the family, Marina, and in 1916 a son was born Danila Narbutwho followed in the footsteps of his father and became an artist.

In February 1917, Narbut became a member of the Special Arts Conference at the Provisional Government. On the eve of the October Revolution, the artist moved to Kiev, where he actively worked on the creation of the first Ukrainian banknotes, drew sketches of military uniforms, and developed labels and packaging. He created the famous "Ukrainian alphabet" - a masterpiece of type art of the time (the project remained incomplete due to the sudden death of the master). In September 1917, he became a professor of graphics at the newly formed Ukrainian Academy of Arts, and later became its rector, replacing him Fedor Krichevsky. After the arrival of Denikin’s army, the Academy was abolished, but the teaching staff endured the difficulties, and Narbut provided his own drawing room for the graphic workshop. Among his students are such outstanding Ukrainian graphic artists as Pavel Kovzhun, Robert Lisovsky, Leonid Khizhinsky, Anton Sereda, Alexey Marenkov.

George Narbut died at the peak of his creative abilities - in 1920, an epidemic of typhus claimed his life. The artist was only 34 years old.