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Take a look at the unique paintings Russia looted from the Kherson Art Museum

Kherson art Russia stole museum Ukraine
A forest near a lake. 1950-1951. Oleksandr Rusakov. This is one of thousands of exhibits that Russia stole from the Kherson art museum as it retreated from the south-Ukrainian city
Take a look at the unique paintings Russia looted from the Kherson Art Museum

As Russia retreated from south Ukraine’s Kherson, the only regional center it managed to seize since the start of the full-blown war in February 2022, it looted the Shovkunenko Kherson art museum. 80% of one of Ukraine’s richest art collections has been, essentially, stolen. While a number of these works have shown up in occupied Crimea, others are feared to be stolen and could end up for sale at international auctions.

While the museum keeps identifying which paintings have been stolen and Ukraine searches for ways to make Russia return this unique art collection to the Ukrainian people, we take a look at some of the art we will no longer be able to see in Kherson — at least for now.

Tribunal or restitution? Ukraine eyes ways to return one of its richest art collections looted by Russia

Russia looted one of Ukraine’s richest collections from the Kherson art museum

The head of the Kherson Art Museum, Alina Dotsenko, told in an interview with Ukrainska Pravda that before the seizure of the region, the art collection of the museum included valuable icons from the 18th and 20th centuries, extraordinary Italian sculptures from the 18th century, masterpieces of August von Bayer and Anglo-Dutch master Sir Peter Lely.

Part of the paintings was insured and added to the official register of the national Ukrainian heritage list.

The gem of the museum’s collection, “Lady with a dog,” is a 17th-century portrait by the Anglo-Dutch master Sir Peter Lely'. Lely was the dominant portrait painter at the court of King Charles II and was widely regarded as the most fashionable artist of his time.
 The gem of the museum’s collection, “Lady with a dog,” is a 17th-century portrait by the Anglo-Dutch master Sir Peter Lely’. Lely was the dominant portrait painter at the court of King Charles II and was widely regarded as the most fashionable artist of his time.

Dotsenko said she had compiled the gallery for 45 years.

The collection was one of Ukraine’s richest. It included 14,000 exhibits from the XVII to the early XX centuries: icons, paintings, and sculptures, including the world’s largest collection of works by Oleksii Shovkunenko, 150 works by Mykola Pymonenko, paintings by Tetiana Yablonska, Mykola Hlushchenko, Zinaida Serebriakova, Peter Lely, August Baer, Ivan Aivazovsky, Mykhailo Vrubel, which no other museum in Ukraine has.

The Nativity of Christ. Early 18th century. Board, levkas, tempera
Icon of the Savior. XVII century. Board, pavlova, levkas, tempera

The miniature painter Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1923) was called a “magician” by his contemporaries. His name was once well-known throughout Europe, and his works were sold out as soon as they were exhibited in art salons. The artist was born in the Kherson province (nowadays his family estate is located in the Kirovohrad region), and from the age of 26, he lived and worked in Europe. The painting below came to the museum from the collection of Maria Kornilovska, which became the golden fund of the museum’s collection.

Paintings missing from the museum include the artwork of Ukrainian landscape painter and graphic artis [pot Ivan Pokhitonov called "Picket on the side of the river. Sunset."
Paintings missing from the museum include the artwork of Ukrainian landscape painter and graphic artist Ivan Pokhitonov called “Picket on the side of the river. Sunset.”
The Kherson Regional Art Museum was named after Oleksii Shovkunenko, who won the golden prize at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. Russian occupiers also stole his painting “On the Dnipro. Kherson. On reed bed. 1914” which captures the tranquil atmosphere of Ukraine’s main river.
The Kherson Regional Art Museum was named after Oleksii Shovkunenko, who won the golden prize at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. Russian occupiers also stole his painting “On the Dnipro. Kherson. On reed bed. 1914” which captures the tranquil atmosphere of Ukraine’s main river.
Oleksii Shovkunenko, Girls with a goat. 1940, oil on canvas. From the collection of the Kherson museum

The Ukrainian artist and teacher Leonid Chychkan (1911-1977) was a student of Oleksii Shovkunenko, who painted mostly Carpathian landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and genre paintings.

“Gladioli.” Leonid Chichkan. 1974 р.. Oil on canvas.
“Houses at sunset.” Petro Sokolov.
“Houses at sunset.” Petro Sokolov. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.

The life and work of Ukrainian painter and theater artist Mykhailo Andrienko-Nechytailo (1894-1982) who worked in France were connected with Kherson Oblast. Mykhailo Andrienko-Nechytailo studied, became interested in art, and began his exhibition activities in Kherson.

“Landscape of Paris” was transferred to the museum by the National Commission for the Return of Cultural Property to Ukraine in 1994. In February 2022, Kyiv received more works by the artist, which were donated to the museum by the famous collector René Guerra. Russia did not loot this gift, and it is now kept at the National Art Museum of Ukraine.

The landscape of Paris. Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo, 1948.
The landscape of Paris. Mykhailo Andriienko-Nechytailo, 1948. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.

Heorhii Kurnakov (1887-1977), the author of unsurpassed landscapes and still lifes, sought to create a generalized epic image of the Kherson Oblast.

“Autumn time.” Heorhii Kurnakov

The works of one of the classics of the Transcarpathian school of painting, Havrylo Hliuk (1912-1983), dedicated to Transcarpathia, reflected both the unique nature of the region and its inhabitants. The artist was especially fond of depicting people at their daily work.

“Link” by Havrylo Hliuk. 1975, oil on canvas
Near a quiet pier. Oil, canvas. Illarion Pryanishnikov
Near a quiet pier. Oil, canvas. Illarion Pryanishnikov. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.
Scenography for the play “Last” by Maxim Gorky. Viktor Balash, 1987.
Scenography for the play “Last” by Maxim Gorky. Viktor Balash, 1987. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.
Ivan Aivazovsky. View of the city of Odesa. 1846. Oil on canvas. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.
Ivan Aivazovsky. The storm subsides. 1870s Oil on canvas
Painting “Palm Sunday” by Mykola Pymonenko. Oil on canvas From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum
Painting “Storm at Sea” by Rufin Sudkovsky. 1881. Oil on canvas. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum.
Tapestry “Where did you grow, viburnum?” by Oleksandra Prokopenko. 1968. Wool, linen, hand weaving. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum
The artist is Anatolii Oitsiis. “On Horseback”. 1969. Paper, linocut From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum
Summer Landscape with Horses by Zinaida Serebryakova. 1910s. Paper, tempera, watercolor. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum
“Cossacks in the Steppe” by artist Serhiy Vasylkivsky. Oil on canvas. From the collection of the Kherson Art Museum
Kherson art Russia stole museum Ukraine
A forest near a lake. 1950-1951. Oleksandr Rusakov. This is one of the thousands of exhibits that Russia stole from the Kherson art museum as it retreated from the south-Ukrainian city

Augustinas Savickas (1919-2012) was a classic of Lithuanian painting of the second half of the 20th century, a representative of the Savickas artistic dynasty, which includes four generations and five artists.

Augustinas Savickas. The ancient walls of Vilnius. 1967. Oil on canvas, mixed media

Lazar Shtyrmer (1922-2003) lived and worked in Kherson almost all his life, he was a master of portraiture, landscape, and still life. His works can be used to study the second half of the twentieth century, according to the Kherson museum.

Lazar Shtyrmer. Worker. 1972. Oil on canvas

The work of the Mykolaiv artist is distinguished by a peculiar painting style and special compositional thinking. In each of her works, there is kindness, love for the beauty of nature and life. The artist often responds to the current problems of society, and explores in painting the feelings that accompany the human life path – anticipation, fear and expectation, and self-affirmation.

Larysa Mandrykova. Black grass. From the series “Our Smaller Brothers”. 1988. Oil on canvas

The work of Feliks Kider (1938-2003) is an outstanding phenomenon in the history of the artistic culture of the Kherson region. An artist of a wide range, Kider left a huge artistic heritage: he became famous as a painter, graphic artist, and master of small-scale sculpture, who always surprised with his extraordinary vision of the world. His paintings impress with the luxury and harmony of colors, originality of composition, and textural expressiveness.

Felix Kider. Portrait of L. Korsakova. 1981. Oil on canvas

“Summer Evening” (1961) is one of the famous paintings by Kharkiv artist Viktoriia-Maryna Derehus (1929-1995), the daughter of the famous Ukrainian graphic artist, painter, and teacher Mykhailo Derehus. The artist was fond of free plein air painting, often turning to the motifs of nature in different regions of Ukraine, her landscapes are truthful, decorative, romantic, and full of subtle color nuance.

Victoria-Maryna Derehus. Summer evening. 1961. Oil on canvas

The Kherson Art Museum has launched a flashmob inviting Ukrainians to share selfies of themselves with the pictures from the stolen collection:

 

Descriptions of paintings and artists courtesy of the Kherson Art Museum

 

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