Portrait of a Woman

Mykhailo Boichuk

  • Portrait of a Woman 2
Basic information
Mykhailo Boichuk
Portrait of a Woman
Date of creation
tempera painting
wood cardboard tempera
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
25.3 x 21.5
Information about author
Mykhailo Boichuk
Artist's lifetime
Mykhailo Boichuk was a Ukrainian muralist and representative of the Ukrainian cultural Renaissance of the early twentieth century. He was the founder of Boichukism, the original school of Ukrainian art, and leader of the group of Boichukists. His name is given to an artistic phenomenon that combined the forms of folk art and the heritage of Byzantium and Proto-Renaissance. The French called it Renovation Byzantine (Neo-Byzantism). In 1913, he became a member of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, and in 1917 – of the Ukrainian Scientific Society. Mykhailo Boichuk was born on October 30, 1882, in the village of Romanivka, near Terebovlia. He received an excellent artistic education thanks to the support of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. The painter studied in Lviv, Vienna, Krakow, and later in Munich and Paris. In 1909, he founded his own school where Mykola Kasperovych, Zofia Nalepinska, Zofia Baudouin de Courtenay, Helena Schramm and others studied. In 1911, he returned to Lviv where he worked as a fine art restorer and muralist at the National Museum (now the Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv). In 1917, he became one of the founding professors of the Ukrainian State Academy of Arts where he headed the icon and fresco studio. In 1925, Mykhailo was one of the organizers of the Association of Revolutionary Art of Ukraine. The most significant works made together with students were paintings on modern themes in the Lutsk barracks in Kyiv in 1919, Sanatorium for Peasants on the coast of the Khadzhibey Estuary in Odesa between 1927 and 1928, and the Chervonozavodskyi Theater in Kharkiv between 1933 and 1935. All monumental paintings have not survived. On November 25, 1936, Mykhailo Boichuk was arrested and charged with Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism as well as being a leader of a national-fascist terrorist organization. The artist was shot, and most of his works were destroyed.
Object description
Most of the work is taken up by a full face portrait of a young woman. Compared to the overall surface of the painting, the woman’s head is slightly deepened in the layer of paint and soil. The face of the portrayed woman is sharply narrowed at the bottom; her chin is forked. The blue elongated eyes, a straight nose, and a long neck are reminiscent of the facial features we are used to seeing in icons. Her brown, slightly curly hair covers the ears. The woman is dressed in the white clothes. The background is ochre green, the horizon line is outlined. There are illegible inscriptions on the back of the work. Most of Boichuk's works were destroyed after his execution by the Soviet authorities in 1937. However, some of Mykhailo Boichuk's works have been preserved thanks to the Lviv artist Yaroslava Muzyka, who, since 1914 when Mykhailo Boichuk was forced to leave Lviv with no opportunity to take his paintings with himself, had in keeping the artist's works and his small but significant archive. The Yaroslava Muzyka Fund is housed in the Lviv National Art Gallery. Presumably, the works we see now are only drafts and sketches for greater compositions.