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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

First female artist in Bukovyna

145th anniversary of Augusta Kochanowska celebrated in Chernivtsi
14 August, 2013 - 17:23
STREET IN LODZ, 1890 / Photo from the website YABLOG.ORG.UA
VIEW OF KRAKOW, 1890 / Photo from the website YABLOG.ORG.UA

The artist was a close friend of Olha Kobylianska (she illustrated works of the writer, covers for books by Ivan Nechui-Levytsky and Ivan Franko), she is the author of ethnographic research, research of Hutsul life and customs. Kochanowska painted the assembly hall of the Ukrainian National Home in Chernivtsi. Her watercolors Bishop’s Palace, Street in Lodz, and View of Krakow in 2002 were offered for sale as one lot at Sotheby’s auction in London (paintings were made in 1890, several years before the artist began her studies at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts).

Augusta Kochanowska received her first art education in Chernivtsi – she graduated from the first art school (for ladies), founded by artist Buchevski. Working as a teacher, she also graduated from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. The artist lived in Chernivtsi in the period from 1885 until 1920.

Creative work of Kochanowska was formed under the influence of Olha Kobylianska. They met, when the Kobyliansky family moved to Campulung in 1874, and for a long time maintained correspondence. This is clearly seen in the illustrations to Kobylianska’s short stories “Pryroda” (Nature), “Bytva” (Battle), “Nekulturna” (Ignorant), “Melankholiiny Vals” (Melancholic Waltz), “Pid Holym Nebom” (Under the Open Sky), “V Nediliu Rano Zillia Kopala” (On Sunday Morning She Gathered Herbs), published in the collection Kleinrussische Novellen in German in 1901. Romantic tint is felt in portraits and some landscapes: Self-Portrait (1896), Portrait of Olha Kobylianska, Hutsul with Hoe (late 19th-early 20th century), Hutsuls Coming from Fair (1906), Old Hutsul (1910), Easter (1911), Hutsuls on the Road (late 19th-early 20th century).

Today, some of her original works can be seen in the exhibition of the Olha Kobylianska Literary-Memorial Museum in Chernivtsi and in Chernivtsi Art and History Museums.

The artist worked in an academic manner, in such genres as portrait, landscape, narrative composition of illustration, using the techniques of painting with oil, watercolor, pastel, gouache, charcoal, and pencil. Her versatile talent manifested itself not only on the canvas, she actively researched her national roots and clearly represented multicultural atmosphere of old Chernivtsi. Kochanowska showed great interest in the diverse ethnography of Bukovyna and is known to the world as an ethnographer, an expert in Hutsul life and customs. She is the author of ethnographic articles: “Easter Eggs in Bukovyna and Galicia” (1898), “Romanian peasant houses in Bukovyna” (1902), “Shepherd of the Bukovyna Carpathians” (1903), “Bukovyna Fairs” (1908), “On the life of shepherds in Bukovyna” (1914). She made her own illustrations to her ethnographical articles.

The results of her ethnographic research were published in 1898-1908 in several editions of the Viennese Magazine of Austrian Folk Art. Kochanowska participated in exhibitions held in Chernivtsi, at an international hunting exhibition in Vienna (1910) her paintings were awarded with a diploma and a prize of King Franz Joseph – a golden brooch. The artist died on December 7, 1927 in Torun (Poland).

ChernivtsiOblast Art Museumpublished a catalogue dedicated to the 145th anniversary of the birth of Augusta Kochanowska. This is the second edition published about the artist. The first monograph Augusta Kochanowska. 1868-1927 was published in 2004. The catalogue includes materials about her life and work, replicas of her paintings, bibliographical information, and family photos. The text material in the book is published in Ukrainian and German. New literary and art publication Augusta Kochanowska won the regional competition Book of the Year in the category “Art.”

“It took many years to make this catalogue, it is the second expanded edition,” said Olena HUZHVA, Head of the Department of Visual Arts at Chernivtsi Art Museum. “This album presents the creative work of Bukovynian artist and is an almost complete catalog of works that are in stock collection of Chernivtsi Oblast Art Museum. It features portraits and genre compositions made in pastel technique, self-portraits from different periods of artist’s life, and also a large-sized canvas Pilgrims. Her drawings, sketches, scenes from people’s lives show the picturesque beauty of native nature, architectural monuments, and expressive ethnographic images. Augusta Kochanowska and her artistic heritage left a significant mark in the cultural life not only of our region.”

By Maria VYSHNEVSKA, Chernivtsi