Our Notes & References
A great Ukrainian artistic and academic collaboration, celebrating – under the Russian rule – the country history and past glory.
Evarnitskii (Dmytro Yavornytsky, 1855-1940) was a knowledgeable historian, ethnographer and lexicographer with marked pro-Ukrainian tendencies.
His vibrant, sometimes lyrical text focuses on the customs of Ukrainian Cossacks and one the lives of some of their heroes, such as Khmelnitskii. Evarnitskii insists on the characteristics and qualities of this legendary people, praising their folk songs and music, “rightly at the first place in the creations of the Slavic genius”, and emphasising their military role in protecting Russia against Muslim Turks and catholic Poles. He also subtly suggests that Russian writers and historians haven’t properly studied nor sung these heroes of Southern Russia: Evarnitskii mentions only two partial works published before his, making this Little Russia of Days Past the first extensive historical description of these Cossacks. Evarnitskii used both primary and archival sources in his research, allowing him to illustrate his historical accuracy with picturesque anecdotes and traditional stories. A selection of these sources was later published, in 1903, as Istochniki dlia istorii zaporozhskykh kozakov [Sources for the History of the Zaporozhian Cossacks].
Evarnitskii then became, in 1902, director of the Museum of Antiquities of Katerynoslav Gubernia (later the Dnipropetrovsk Historical Museum).
Evarnitskii’s text explains, as much as it is illustrated by, 20 folio plates beautifully designed by two of the best artists and book decorators of the period, both also Ukrainian. Samokish’s striking, dynamic style echoes one of his masterpieces, the celebrated 4-volume ‘Tsarskaya Okhota’ [Imperial Hunt]. The plates show portraits in colour by Vasilkovskii, framed by lively scenes by Samokish. Both artists had already collaborated for Tsar Nicholas II’s coronation album, and later published together an album of Ukrainian folk ornamental motifs.
Louis Becker, Paris (French bibliophile who gathered a large collection of fashion and costume books in the first half of the 20th century, then auctioned in 1954 in Geneva; described by Lugt as an “importante bibliothèque sur les modes et costumes” (Les Marques de collections de dessins et d’estampes, The Hague 1921-1956, no. 4234); large booklabel to upper pastedown).