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MARIA BASHKIRTSEVA - A Prominent Ukrainian Artist

Despite the difficulties of the times, there are many outstanding women in Ukrainian culture. Today, we want to tell you about Maria Bashkirtseva.


Painter, sculptor, proto-feminist and creator of one of the most extraordinary journals ever written, Marie Bashkirtseff (November 24, 1858 - October, 31 1884) was born in Ukraine to a somewhat nomadic and eccentric family of petite noblesse. From an early age, Marie's intelligence and the force of her personality held sway over her wandering, expatriate family. And wander they did, back and forth across the face of Europe and Russia.

Self Portrait with a Palette, 1880 (Oil on canvas)

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice | Nice | France

Credit: Image Courtesy of Fonthill Press


In 1873 she was 14 years old, living in a sun swept villa on the shore of Mediterranean - along with her mother, aunt, brother, grandfather, family doctor, a train of servants, a monkey and dogs (always her beloved dogs) - when she began inscribing the events of her seaside days: her infatuations, acute and precocious observations, passions, dreams, radiant artistic notions, loves - every topic that fell into the ken of her encompassing mind and luminous vision. However, the issues with her health, most specifically Tuberculosis, which appeared at the age of 16, prevented her from pursuing the career of a singer.

The Umbrella, 1883

State Russian Museum | St. Petersburg | Russian Federation

Credit: Image Courtesy of Fonthill Press


Following the failure of several lucrative relationships, she decided to become a professional artist and entered the only educational institution in Paris where women were taught to draw - Academie Julian. Several years of hard work in the workshop later and her paintings were taken to the famous Salon.

In the Studio, 1881 (Oil on canvas)

In the Academie Julien in Paris

Dnipropetrovsk State Art Museum | Dnipropetrovsk Oblast | Ukraine

Credit: Image Courtesy of Fonthill Press


Marie published articles regarding the Rights of Women, writing under the nom de plume of Pauline Orell. Always, in every endeavor, Marie seemed engaged in an inexorable battle with passing time, sensing from early on that her own time was short. In spite of her personal wealth and illness, she worked tirelessly - eight to twelve or more hours a day, virtually for the remainder of her life.


She was 25 when she died - a cold taking her life. Though a few still hang on the walls of collectors, most of her paintings were lost during World War II.

Despair, 1882

Sumy Art Museum | Sumy | Ukraine

Credit: Image Courtesy of Fonthill Press

The article based on the Art Renewal Center materials.

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