Portrait of Dmytro Levytskyi

Oleksa Novakivskyi

  • Portrait of Dmytro Levytskyi 2
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Basic information
Oleksa Novakivskyi
Portrait of Dmytro Levytskyi
Date of creation
Eastern Europe
oil painting
plywood oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
121 x 88
Information about author
Oleksa Novakivskyi
Artist's lifetime
Oleksa Novakivskyi (1872, Slobodo-Obodivka, Vinnytsia region – August 29, 1935, Lviv) was a famous Ukrainian painter, graphic artist, and teacher. Oleksa Novakivskyi began his career in the art studio of the decorative artist Fedir Klymenko in Odesa. Between 1892 and 1900, he studied at the Krakow School of Fine Arts, which was later changed into the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts. Stanislaw Wyspianski and Jan Stanislawski were his teachers. Jacek Malczewski, with whom the artist consulted, had a great influence on Oleksa Novakivskyi. The painter graduated from the academy with a gold medal. From 1900, the artist lived near Krakow in the village of Mohyla. Since the man had no money for his apartment, he settled with a widow; thus he met his future wife who was the daughter of the hostess. In 1911, Oleksa Novakivskyi presented more than 100 works at a solo exhibition in Krakow; they brought the artist recognition and popularity. Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, who had just arrived in the city on business, was also interested in the paintings. In 1913, Oleksa Novakivskyi arrived in Lviv at the invitation of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. In 1919, Oleksa Novakivskyi was nominated a professor at the Ukrainian Academy of Arts. In 1923, the artist founded an art school, which brought up a whole galaxy of talented young people, mostly from the poor; some of them have gained recognition and world fame in the future, and others are known only from school documents. The school became a real passion of Oleksa Novakivskyi; his contribution to the education of the young generation of artists with a clear cultural and artistic focus, as well as the creation of a true spiritual and artistic center is invaluable. From 1924 to 1925, he was Dean of Arts at the Secret Ukrainian University. In 1925, the artist's wife died suddenly. Oleksa Novakivskyi outlived his wife for 10 years. On August 29, 1935, the painter died in Lviv. The artist's creative work is permeated with the influences of Symbolism and characterized by formal searches in art, which were mostly noticeable at the turn of the century, starting from impressionist tendencies and ending with more expressive and monumental forms. The artist painted landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and genre paintings on genre, mythological, and religious themes; he was fond of folk art, and some of his works formed whole series. Oleksa Novakivskyi is considered to be one of the best portrait painters who portrayed the Metropolitan; his creative work includes 18 portraits and more than 200 sketches of Andrey Sheptytsky. In 1952, a significant number of the artist's works were destroyed; the whereabouts of the others remain unknown. Among the outstanding portraits by Oleksa Novakivskyi is a portrait of Vasyl Barvinskyi, who was a frequent guest at the artist's house. The Levytski family played a special role in Oleksa Novakivskyi's life, so the artist painted a portrait of Dmytro Levytskyi. The wife of the politician, Ivanna Levytska, who was a great admirer of the artist’s oeuvre and attended his school, let Oleksa Novakivskyi use the basement of her villa as a dormitory for his students, as well as donated a house in the village of Dora. Oleksa Novakivskyi was in the middle of the artistic life of Galicia; his expressive and symbolic works together with pedagogical activities are a whole era of development of national and cultural life of the region.
Object description
The portrait is executed in a rich pastel and expressive manner. The figure is depicted against the backdrop of a restless sea, waves crashing against a high, rocky shore. Traditionally, the artist appeals to associative and symbolic scenery. The rough sea, for example, indicates a restless way of life and is meant to create a poetic, though harsh myth. The sea is also associated with the years when the portrayed individual was an ambassador of the Ukrainian People's Republic in Denmark. There is a certain tension in the figure of Dmytro Levytsky, which reaches its apogee in his facial expression, which is quite complex in terms of physiognomy and emotion. The hands are not emphasized in this portrait, yet they seamlessly complement the image of the man. The aristocratic figure of Dmytro Levytsky strikes with a refined coldness that is emphasized by the coldness of the austere landscape behind the figure. In the colouring, the artist balances ascetic outlines and character of the portrayed man with hot touches of red-ochre tones in the outlines of the rock and sea - in the background, and the chair, balcony, hands and face - in the foreground, which, in turn, creates a holistic impression of the composition. Dmytro Levytsky (October 30, 1877, Dobryachyn, Austria-Hungary, - October 31, 1942, Bukhara, Uzbek SSR) was a Ukrainian social and political figure, lawyer, Doctor of Law. At various times he was a diplomat for WUPR (West Ukrainian People's Republic), ambassador of UPR (Ukrainian People's Republic) in Copenhagen, editor of newspaper Dilo (Action), chairman of UNDA (Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance), ambassador to Polish Sejm.
Portrayed person
The name of the person portrayed
Dmytro Levytskyi
Lifetime of the person portrayed