Remembrance of the dead (Kazakh Katya)

Taras Grigorievich Shevchenko • Painting, 1857, 27.6×21.5 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene, Religious scene
Technique: Sepia
Materials: Paper
Date of creation: 1857
Size: 27.6×21.5 cm
Artwork in collection: Smart and Beautiful Natalya Kandaurova
Artwork in selections: 4 selections

Description of the artwork «Remembrance of the dead (Kazakh Katya)»

The Kyrgyz and Kazakhs have a special tradition of remembrance. Taras Shevchenko talked about him in a letter to one of his correspondents, Bronislaw Zaleski. All night relatives of the deceased of the wiring in the bowls on the dead mutton fat. And a day tank in which the fat was heated, filled with water, and drank it to the birds and thus prayed for the soul of the deceased. "Isn't that poetic belief?" - says Shevchenko. The plot of this religious rite he wrote Sepia, which is called "Remembrance of the dead".

May occur legitimate question: why Ukrainian poet and graduate of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of arts, whose name was not otherwise the "Russian Rembrandt" in the years of his artistic maturity and wrote so many Kyrgyz children (1, 2) and Kazakh women? What a strange exotic choice? – surprised the audience, unfamiliar with the biography of Shevchenko.

This choice was made for the artist the circumstances of his difficult life. In 1847, the year he turned thirty-three. As often happens in the life of the big artists, "the age of Christ" led Shevchenko to his Calvary. For participation in the activities of the anti-monarchist circle "Cyril and Methodius brotherhood" he was as an ordinary soldier, exiled to Orenburg, ancestral land of the Kirghiz and Kazakh tribes.

The Imperial prohibition to draw and write did exist Shevchenko meaningless, and he himself is deeply unhappy. But in 1848-1849 years flashed a ray of hope. Instead of soldiers drill Shevchenko offered the opportunity to participate in the expedition for the study of the topography of the Aral sea as artist and chronicler. For its time it was a big scientific event that continued for many years. A caravan of several thousand camels and wagons overcoming the steppe winds and sudden temperature changes, covered more than eight hundred miles of wilderness, the study of nature and the inhabitants of which previously haven't made one.

With the expedition has mastered the hardships of the way and Shevchenko, doing scientific notation and artistic outline, creating a Sepia and watercolors, sketching out what he saw. Not everything went smoothly: Shevchenko leads a heart, he had been ill with scurvy, and from the blinding sun had "burnt out" eyes, becoming of a bright pale brown-grey. In addition, because of the denunciations of the artist sometimes again deprived of even the illusion of freedom: by 1850 he was transferred to a stricter regime in a fortress on the Caspian sea – novopetrovsk Fort. Then his artistic skills are again in demand – he is involved in geological exploration on the Mangyshlak Peninsula at the mountains of Kara-Tau. And again draws, the trees, the mountains, the life of the natives.

All these circumstances allow us to understand how the image of the Kazakh girl with small in size Sepia (her second name "Kazakh Katia") there is a real Rembrandt drama. All the same, then, in the Academy, a young and successful Shevchenko was called the "Russian Rembrandt" in advance. Special light and emotional intensity akin to Rembrandt, you will see him only after serious trials of life.

Beautiful young Kazakh girl in national dress. From under the turban snakes across her shoulders in two thick braids. Hand the girl covers the memorial lamp, a gleam of light which falls on her right cheek, neck and chest. Headstone with a national ornament in the background also falls in a narrow circle of light. That's all. However, the typical Rembrandt lighting gives the picture a mystical elusive spirit, the feeling that we are face to face with something that has just sort of ordinary, but really – is incomprehensible. And it is no coincidence that Rembrandt Shevchenko was taken by the theme of death, long ago, he carefully copied Rembrandt's etching "Death of Mary". The mysterious transition from the world of the living and the world of the dead – that is the true subject of "Kazakh women Katie".

Author: Anna Yesterday