Mykola Pymonenko

Mykola Pymonenko
Born just outside of Kiev, 19th century artist Mykola Pymonenko spent most of his career portraying the land and people of his native Ukraine.

He became a member of the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts, but also exhibited with the more progressive Society of South Russian Artists and the Peredvizhniki. (See my Lines and Colors posts on some of the Peredvizhniki.)

Pymonenko’s paintings of peasant life set their work against the backdrop of fields and farms, as well as scenes of village life. He was adept at portraying scenes in twilight and evening light.

Pymonenko was also an illustrator, teacher and portrait artist.

17 Replies to “Mykola Pymonenko”

  1. became a member of the Russian Imperial Academy of Arts….

    i thought this blog is outside of politics, but I was mistaken

    1. I’m sorry you find 19th century art history offensive. My point in highlighting a Ukrainian artist at this point in time, particularly one who painted peasants more than the ruling classes, is to remember that the news stories we hear involve real people with real lives. As for anything you might read into the mention of the Imperial Academy, that is simply part of Pymonenko’s life story. (I have to admit I don’t even know from which side of the current conflict you are taking offense.)

  2. Thank you for highlighting this artist. Ignore the crazy people. It’s about the art.

    When I see paintings like this I am always struck by the expertise of artists before the camera. The picture of the flower seller, smiling and holding out her flower toward the viewer, looks like something someone nowadays would have done from a reference photo, and yet none of this work was done with one–nor with stationary models, I’d be willing to bet. The memory for detail is astounding to me.

  3. Melissa is right, it is, or should be, about the art. Thankyou for showing another inspiring artist.

  4. What is the story behind the 3rd painting which seems to depict a group of Jews? I thought it was a pogrom but it doesn’t look like it on closer inspection.

  5. I guess I have my head wrapped up in painting too much. It never even occurred to me that this post was related to the conflict with the Ukraine. I was too busy trying to figure out if this artist would have been contemporary with Ilya Repin.

  6. What a strange comment from itt. Just a mention receives a black label. As if I were writing about recovering art from WWII and mentioned the Nazis? Strange. New artist to me Charley. Thank you again.

  7. Couldn’t it have been a jest?

    About the third painting, Victim of Fanaticism: according to the Russian Wikipedia and this discussion in Russian Pimonenko read in a newspaper about [some amount of] physical violence against a girl of Judaic origin that has converted to Christianity out of love for an Ukrainian man. In reaction, the painter moved to the village where the event reportedly happened, interacted with the inhabitants and made numerous preparatory sketches for the future painting.

    According to Z.S. Kaufman (about whom I know nothing; quoted in the link above, important enough to have his book online): “Unlike most artists depicting aspects of Jewish life, and, in general, sympathetic to their unique and hard life, Pymonenko acted as exposer of religious intolerance [et. al.] of Jews.” Which strongly indicates this painting is rather an exception to the rule.

    My transcriptions are based on Google Translate and my half-understanding of Russian. I’m from SE Europe, and this is my first comment on lines & colors.

  8. It did look like religious Jews lynching a girl to me which is why I was so surprised because I have never seen something like that before. In terms of the Kaufman and the Russian Wikipedia’s understanding that Pymonenko was taking the high road and trying to expose extremism, that understanding is highly suspect to me. Of all the troubles that Jews were going through at that time being murdered by Ukrainians right and left that is what he choose to focus on? Many of the pogroms happened because of rumors that Jews secretly abused Christians and drank their blood. Anyone highlighting Jewish offense toward Christians which even if true in that particular instance was extremely exceptionally rare was not doing them a favor. I like your blog too much to say I’m offended but I will say this is a controversial and definitely somewhat offensive picture in my eyes and in context feels very likely to be anti-Semitic motivated. I do have to do more research into it but astonishingly this has become the post of being offended.

    1. Joe,

      Thanks for your comment and concerns. My knowledge of Pymonenko is shallow and limited to a quick internet skim for background information related to the artist and his paintings. Without actually knowing more about the history of the region, the origin and provenance of the painting (in regard to its naming), and the artist himself, I would be slow to draw strong conclusions. Perhaps someone who has researched this in more depth will join the conversation.

  9. I agree that it needs more research before really understanding the story behind it. I tried on Google but couldn’t come up with anything. That said, it is an unusual picture.

    1. My first thought on seeing it, having read that Pymonenko was also an illustrator, was that it was an illustration, either from a story or historical event. It just seemed uncharacteristically dramatic, and very different from most of the other examples of Pymonenko’s work I have seen. I don’t know enough about the dress of the people to read into it as you have. I do understand, however, that many paintings from eastern European artists in the late 19th century carried social statements of one kind or another; but again, I don’t know enough to interpret his intention.

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