Saturday in the Museum with Mykola

Image: Mykola Pymonenko, Harvest in Ukraine (1896).

This past week was Ukrainian Independence Day. It also marked six months since the beginning of Russia’s renewed violence against Ukraine. On Saturday’s we post about art, especially art that intersects with the world of food. For today’s post, we highlight a Ukrainian painter who captured the soul of his country.

Mykola Pymonenko was born in the village of Priorka in 1862. His father was a woodcarver and icon painter. Identified as a gifted artist as a teen, he studied in Kyiv before heading to the Russian Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg for a couple of years. He returned to Kyiv, where he was one of the founders and teachers of the Kyiv Art School. He also joined an artist collective known as the Peredvizhniki (“Itinerants”), which aimed to present an unvarnished view of life in Imperial Russia. In 1909, one of his paintings was accepted into the Paris Salon. Plagued with health problems, he died young in 1912.

This painting is at a time when Pymonenko did several pieces focusing on peasant labor. As an artist, “Pymonenko upheld realistic and democratic principles in art. His paintings are distinguished by profound humanitarianism, close links with the people, and poetic nature. They speak of the artist’s good knowledge of Ukrainian peasants’ life, his skill in rendering national peculiarities of the mode of life and in creating highly expressive characters from common people.”

This work appears to be in the holdings of the Volgograd Regional Museum of Fine Arts, Russia, located just to the east of the Ukrainian border. The city was one used by the Russians to stage military equipment just prior to initiating the most recent invasion.


Usually we post about art on Saturdays as a fun thing, apologies to any readers thrown off by the topic today. When we are not posting about art we are a dining guide for D.C. Apropos of the topic, we would flag that the D-Light Cafe in Adams Morgan is owned and operated by a couple of Ukrainian sisters who have been raising money for the cause. Adams Morgan is also due to get a Ukrainian restaurant soon.

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