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Taras Shevchenko is not just an outstanding Ukrainian poet, not just an artist, not just one of the many who have glorified our literature, who were fighting for the rights of people etc. Surely, each of these people deserves a place in the history of the region and the respect of the descendants, however, just agree that there are many of them. Taras Shevchenko is someone even greater than a national hero. During his life – not so long and serene, by the way – he managed to do something that inscribed his name forever at the top step of the Ukrainian Pantheon . It’s not only talent, not only in how we are nowadays, from the  top of years perceive Shevchenko`s art. It’s incomprehensible «something» is probably originated back in the years of his life, in the circle of his acquaintances, friends and rivals. That «something» has survived several wars and regime changes so far. And, believe me, it will live much longer than us.

I can not explain this phenomenon. I just don`t know how I can express with the words that peculiar thing which makes Shevchenko different from many other Ukrainian geniuses. However, I do not set myself such a task. And I neither recommend to dig into his personal life and stories like «it was suppressed and is only now been revealed, it turns out, and you even can’t imagine…». Ukrainian children are taught the phenomenon called «our great Shevchenko» from the very childhood: parents tell children worn-out stories of his suffering life, in schools they yearly learn his verses by heart and cram our Kobzar`s biography. Personally, I find this wrong, because only being quite adult and mature one can fully appreciate the ideas, motifs and style of Shevchenko’s works of art. Only with the least understanding of life you begin to look at his paintings not if it was a boring obligation, but as at true masterpieces, a poetry, skillfully transferred to canvas by a nearly illiterate former serf. And the children answer the question «what do you know about Shevchenko?» with memorized statements about the national hero, Kobzar, singing soul of the Ukrainian people, rebel and so on and so far, not even realizing what stays behind these words.

But this is beside the point. It was a sort an explication of why I’m not going to write about Shevchenko, using the topics that are already familiar to the pain. A much more interesting point of disclosure is the Aral descriptive expedition – that famous journey to the steppes of the Aral Sea region, in which Shevchenko was taken as an artist. Then he returned to the service to which he was sentenced for the freethinking and poetry that defied and discredited the Emperor’s name. Usually, all the information about the expedition runs out at this point. But why? Why? Do the Shevchenko researchers and guides in museums believe that people won`t be interested to hear that that was the first descriptive expedition to the Aral Sea, especially if we recall ourselves about how rapidly it is disappearing from the face of the Earth at the modern times? Isn’t it interesting to hear quotes from the diaries of the expedition participants, including Shevchenko`s memories about one of the greatest adventures of his life? But, okay, let`s put everything in order…

In 1836 Shevchenko made friends with such outstanding people of that time as Brullov, Grigorovich, Zhukovsky. They set a goal to liberate the young artist from serfdom. I should note that Shevchenko actually has always been lucky to meet a kind and sympathetic attitude of the people who were doing their best to make his life better in tough times. Soshenko introduced him to many famous artists of that time, and Taras became a regular in secular salons of St. Petersburg. In 1838 Bryullov painted a portrait of Zhukovsky and sold it for 2500 roubles. Shevchenko was redeemed with that money. Having become free, Taras entered the Academy of Arts. In 1840 he published his first collection of poems «Kobzar». In 1846, Taras Shevchenko became a member of a secret political society, and in 1847 was exiled to the Orsk fortress. He was only amnestied after the death of Nicholas I.

While at casemate, Shevchenko wrote several verses in which he expressed, to put it mildly, his trepidation for the future. The sentence was cruel and could not be challenged: «Make Shevchenko the Artist for making the outrageous and highly audacious verses to determine in the Orenburg separate corps, instructing the commander to have strict supervision upon him so that outrageous and libelous writings could not be created under any circumstances». And subscribed personally by Nicolas I: «Under strictest supervision and with the prohibition to write and draw».The sentence exceeded poet`s expectations: he was not simply exiled as a soldier in distant Orenburg steppe but strictly prohibited to write and draw. Of course, this was a cruel punishment for the talented poet. However, in Russia of those times it occurred that the most brutal punishment was eased by its executors. The life of Shevchenko in exile can be presented in the form of «waves». During the «light stripes » officers, under whose command Shevchenko served as a soldier, were making his life quite tolerable. He slept and ate separately from the other soldiers, visited «dinner parties» and other «aristocratic gatherings», taught the commanders` children.

As it turned out, there were many people who knew Shevchenko and appreciated his works even in the distant Orenburg. News of another nature were spreading, too: an important political «criminal» was made a soldier. In democratic circles that was regarded with interest and sympathy.

On the first day of acquaintance with Shevchenko F. Lazarevsky turned to his direct commander the Head of the Orenburg border Commission general M. Ladyzhensky and to the officer on special assignments by the commander of the Orenburg corps Colonel Yury Matveev to help Shevchenko. The latter accepted the suggestion. The son of a simple kozak from Ural, a humane and kind person, Matveev sincerely sympathized the exiled and helped him whenever possible. Soon he invited him and had a debate. Obviously, that was Matveev who decided to let Shevchenko leave the barracks and visit his new friend F. Lazarev. At the house of F. Lazarevsky the poet met another ardent admirer of his poetry  S. Levitsky. «The guest stayed overnight with us — tells F. Lazarev in his memoires. — After having removed mattresses from the bed, we put them on the floor and laid on them side by side. Shevchenko recited us by heart the poem «Caucasus», «The Dream» and several others, sang a few favorite songs: his favourite «Star», «Heavy, heavy is life in the world»; but with a special feeling he sang the song:

The snow became white,

The pain rose in the body

And the head, too.

No one will cry

For a white body…

Midsummer night, therefore, passed quickly. We didn’t sleep at all. Early in the morning Taras said goodbye to us, claiming that he had already received an appointment to the fortress of Orsk, where he had to go».

When Shevchenko arrived to Orsk fortress, its elderly commandant General D. Isaev was waiting for the resignation. As a humane, supremely intelligent man, he treated the disgraced poet with sincere sympathy. With his permission, Taras did not live in barracksfor a while, but in the flat, visited the commandant’s house, used his library. But that didn`t last for long: after a few months Isaev was dismissed from service and within few months he died. The new commandant D. Meshkoff, in an effort to curry favor with the autorities, was viciously drilling the poet with the utmost rage. He ordered immediately to transfer Shevchenko to the barracks and to demand from him to stick to the Statute and a soldier’s strict regime.Shevchenko`s enrollment as a member of the 5th battalion, the first brigade of the 23rd infantry division was the very beginning of another «dark stripe» in his life. M. Lazarevsky wrote: «The life of him with Isaev`s participation was quite tolerable; most of his time he spent either reading books or in conversations with the poles….In 1847 Isaev died, and then came to Shevchenko hard times. Battalion commander Corporal Meshkoff, who once rose up from a soldier, showed on him the full force of his power.»

A rumor about the expedition to the Aral Sea in the spring 1848 arose, apparently, due to the arrival of staff-captain O. Maksheev in Orenburg in December 1847 who had just graduated from the Academy of the General Staff and was willingly sent to the Orenburg corps to study the natural conditions of Central Asia. At first Shevchenko had an intention to ask to be left in Orsk: «…if they send me in the spring to the steppe of Raim, because there is such a rumor, then I will beg, and with God`s help I`ll remain here». However, when he looked into the nature of the campaign and his duties in it he sighed with relief: «Now I go full of joy to that void Sea of Aral. Don`t know if I will return! But now, I swear by God, I`m joyful!.» And he definitely had the reason to rejoice so: at the request of the expedition`s commander Russian navigator and geographer Navy Captain-Lieutenant V. Butakoff Shevchenko was involved in the expedition as an artist. Practically this meant having a permission and getting free of military drill and strict supervision for a while.

Initiation of the expedition

The Aral Sea was surrounded with rumors from the ancient times. It was mentioned by Greek and Roman authors, in Chinese annals and Arabic manuscripts. The Pope`s ambassador Plano Carpini had a voyage along its Northwest coast but he thought it was the Sea of Azov.

The modern name of the sea was initially used by Peter the Great in an official document. In 1741, basing on the route topographical marks, the geodesist Ivan Muravin created a map of the way from Orenburg to Khiva, on which he depicted the East coast of the Aral Sea. However, the activity around the big water was over and for the next 100 years no new information about the Aral Sea appeared.The necessity for a descriptive expedition was proved by many famous people – circumnavigator Thaddeus Bellingshausen and Polar explorer Pyotr Anjou. Finally, in 1848 preparations for the expedition, organized by the Military Ministry «for the shoots and the measurements of the Aral Sea and the study of its natural resources and conditions for the future navigation» began, and Alexey Butakoff was made its leader.

A. I. Butakoff (19.02.1816 – 10.07.1869) – in fact, the same age as Taras – Russian navigator and geographer, explorer of the Aral Sea, Admiral. He first made acquaintance with the poet in May 1848 in Orsk fortress before the expedition. Butakoff made a request from the commander of the Separate Orenburg corps Vladimir Obruchev for the introduction of Taras Shevchenko to the expedition as an artist, because its success depended greatly on how it was visually presented. By the way, the expedition included another young Pole, a student-geologist from Warsaw Tomash Werner. The Emperor was far away, and Obruchev didn’t mind, so the soldier Shevchenko was accepted to the expedition and he was to escort the vehicles that went in a hard and long way to the newly constructed fortress of Raim, located on the banks of the river of Syrdarya, 800 km from Orenburg.

The 1848 expedition

Alexey Ivanovich Butakoff led an expedition according to the recommendation of the world-famous seafarer F. F. Bellinsgauzen. The expedition had been equipping for about two months. A. Butakoff arrived in Orenburg on March 5, 1848, and then began the construction of a flat-bottomed 50 feet in length (about 16 meters) schooner «Constantine» and the crew.Butakoff gathered specialists for a challenging expedition with special insistence, particularly topographers, meteorologists, an artist, geologists, botanists and health professionals. In his strong desire to involve Shevchenko in the expedition was not only expressed his humane attitude to the exiled poet, but also the desire to have a qualified artist. The expedition was also joined by first-class military topographers K. Rybin, N. Khristoforov, A. Actev, geologist and botanist Werner T. and paramedic A.Istomin. Naval navigators Corporal K. Pospelov was one of the first Butakoff`s assistants in the organization and conduction of the whole expedition. He supervised the construction (primarily the blacksmiths works) of the schooner «Constantine» and was maintaining the logbook and the calculations of the route during the very navigation. With him Butakoff was making astronomical observations. In 1849 Pospelov was the commander of the schooner «Nicholas». Butakoff himself had high reputation as a navigator, scientist and active campaigner. As an experienced naval officer he participated in the round- world navigation on the transport ship «Abo» in 1840 — 1842. Eventually, Shevchenko found himself in a very favorable situation when in the beginning of May 1848 he was accepted as an artist in the Aral expedition crew. In particular, he even lived together with Butakoff, Pospelov, Istomin, Akishev, Maksheev and Werner in the officers ‘ cabin.It took less than two months (March – April 1848) to build in Orenburg a schooner «Constantine» for the expedition (the son of Nicholas I had such a name, whom the Emperor had placed at the head of the Russian Navy). However, it still had to be disassembled and transported to the sea. The expedition headed out in several groups. May 8, 1848. A squad under the command of K. Gern left for the establishment of the Fort Karabutak and a squad of surveyors left to carry out the description of the Karakumsk desert. May 10 left the Ural fortress` transport, and the next day, May 11 left the transport of Raim fortress. One can only imagine the caravan, which went from Orsk to Fort Raim. The transport consisted of 1.5 thousand Bashkir one-horse wagons that were moving under the cover of an infantry company, two hundred Orenburg Cossacks and two cannons with the full cohort (it was necessary to protect themselves from possible attacks of robbers from the Khiva khanate). And there were also 3,000 camels with 560 Kazakh wranglers, that were covered by 150 Ural Cossacks. Journey to Raim, beginning may 11, 1848, lasted 39 days. The two-mile caravan was overcoming 20-25 km daily. Taras Shevchenko had to walk in the forefront of the transport columns. On the night he was given shelter by the Staff-Captain Alexej Maksheev, geographer, sent from St. Petersburg to participate in the expedition. Later Maksheev remembered those long days and evening conversations with Shevchenko in the tent «the whole campaign he (Taras Shevchenko) was doing on foot, separately from the company…He was joyful and, obviously, very pleased with the spaciousness of the steppe and the change of his position. Marching situation wasn`t suppressing him at all. When after a long trip we came to the fortress, where we had the opportunity to replace the water crackers with fresh bread and a good brew, Taras jokingly turned to the servant with the words «Give me, brother, brew with ice, you know that I was not educated to drink plain water.» He told me a lot about his little troubles, but about big, political ones, he never said a word». Shevchenko`s memory also kept a lot of the details of the campaign – he subsequently embodied them in the pages of the story «Twins».On the way he was painting. Fortunately, a lot of paintings of the poet has survived. It was there where the style which was founded by Shevchenko before the exile – Ukrainian Marinistic  —  developed. Researchers believe Taras Shevchenko to be the first Ukrainian marine painter. The first well-known marine-themed work of art by Taras Shevchenko was a painting «Hamalia», auto-illustration to the poem of the same title, painted in St. Petersburg. His task in the expedition was to create technical drawings and sketches for it, to paint landscapes of the studied area and the topography of the Aral Sea coast. Drawings were of a technical and addictive character to the expedition scientific report. During this period, Shevchenko developed his talent as landscaper, having created a lot of sepia and pencil drawings in addition to watercolors, together about 80 and graphic works of the seascape genre. Watercolors of Aral period, in contrast to «Hamalia», which expresses a romantic marinistic vision, are enhanced with the realistic trend. On the one hand, it can be explained by the applied goal of these works — to give a description of the coasts, — on the other hand, it organically reveals the richness and breadth of Shevchenko`s talent, because these pictures are still not an elementary factography playback of landscapes and scenery, they are artistic paintings, lit by a certain mood and feeling of the author.

Artistic works, created by Shevchenko in the expedition, are very specific. They are characterized by high accuracy of the objects depicted and a large degree of lyricism. In his landscape watercolors Shevchenko effectively reflects the natural light, subtly conveys the shades of the sea and the coast, combining the lyrical, the romantic and the heroic perception of the surrounding nature. Despite the academic style of implementation, in his works he expresses the nature of folk ideas of beauty. Tonal development of the artwork creates “the impression of elegant wealth and beauty of coloring”, so that small landscape works are perceived as big canvases. Some of the seascapes of Taras Shevchenko are now kept in the National Museum of Taras Shevchenko in Kyiv, but most of them created during naval service in two watercolor sketchbooks were probably lost. By the way, poetic marinistic art of Shevchenko is also quite wide — more than 70 works. If talking about his description of the water element and related images in general, the range of these works will be significantly expanded, covering almost all of the poet`s work.According to Butakoff`s diary note on May 12, the expedition made a witness of fire in the steppe. On Schreiber`s request Shevchenko portrayed this fire and presented him the painting. A pencil sketch and watercolor drawing of a fire have been preserved so far. Shevchenko also described the fire in the steppe in 1848 in the novel «Twins».

In the novel he depicted many other interesting details of the campaign, as well. There are characteristics of the expedition`s crew, personal impressions and experiences, the signs of the area and so on and so far. Only the deeply sensitive nature and a rich memory of the artist was able to preserve and transmit such a picture «On another day we took off at sunrise. The morning was quiet, bright, beautiful. I was going with the Ural Cossacks half a mile ahead of the transport and could well indulge my quiet sadness and contemplation of nature around me. It was the plain steppe without the least hill from all sides… A wonderful, but sad scenery!»On the way to the Ural fortress the poet painted Dustanov`s grave and Irgyzkhal fortress in watercolor. There are also pencil sketches of graves and fortifications. They are also mentioned in the novel «Twins». In the album of 1846-1850 on the back of the 45th page there is an inscription by Shevchenko`s hand: «Dustan Chumeney family`s grace.»On 30 May, the transport reached the Ural fortifications, where they had a three-day rest. Obviuosly, during this time Shevchenko finished watercolors «Fire in the steppe», «Jangisaghach», «Fort Karabutak», «Irgyzkhal fortress», whose high artistic level suggests that they could not be completed on short halts.The southern part of the way was overcome with great difficulty. This, apparently, explains the fact that during the first half of June Shevchenko draw almost nothing. These can include, perhaps, only the watercolor «Midday of expedition in the desert» and some sketches in the album of 1846 – 1850.

The expedition was in the travel for almost the whole June until it got Raim. There they stayed for 5 weeks. They had to set up the schooner «Constantine», make routes and plans of study of the Aral Sea, to prepare instruments for operation in field conditions, to determine the tasks for each member of the crew etc. There are watercolors of this period by Shevchenko : «Raim fortress. View from the shipyard on the Syrdarya», «Raim from the West», «Harbor on the Syrdarya in 1848,» and also sepia «Shevchenko draws a friend», «Portrait of a stranger with a guitar», «Schooner «Constantine» and «Michael», «Equipment of vessels».In addition to the schooner «Constantine», A. Butakov had the schooner «Nicholas» transported to Raim at the disposal. The last was loaded with supplies for three months and all the major cargo. Finally, «Constantine» was launched with a crew of 27 men on it. A. I. Butakoff was keeping a diary, and now these records enable us to imagine the routine of the Aral expedition. Staff-Capitan Maksheev also left his memories.

July 25th 1848 a dream of Butakoff came true – the first scientific expedition of the Aral Sea began. Consisting of two sailboats the expedition set off from Raim, and went down the Syrdarya to the Aral Sea. In the morning on the second day the schooner came up to the Cape Karatube where marine scientists began their incredible research. Everyone realized what for they had resigned themselves to difficulties and ordeals. While still in Raim, Butakoff ordered the officers to eat from the same pot with simple sailors (which was unthinkable at the time).On July 30th, the expedition headed South-West, went past the island Kug-aral and Karatube, Kulandy, Izenaral and Uzuncairo peninsulas and dropped the anchor by the Barsakelmes island on 7th August 1848. Shevchenko, six sailors and two officers led by the officer A. Akishev remained on that island, while the last members of the expedition returned to the Kulandy peninsula to explore deposits of coal. Shevchenko painted there a watercolor «Expedition`s Tent on the island Barsa Kelmes». By this time, apparently, belongs the episode, which the poet told M. Chaliy «Taras told me one episode of his voyage on the Aral Sea. There are floating islands formed of rotting marine vegetation. Once being on a small boat with five men between tall reeds, they stuck to one of these islands. Leaving the boat to wander at large, Shevchenko hid in the grass, lay «belly up» and indulged in the poetic contemplation of the sky. Not having firstly noticed his absence, the sailors cast off. Then, having looked around, they returned to the island and began to shout and call the prankster. «And I was lying and keeping quiet. `cause the idea was, you see, I wanted to stay there forever, but damn the sailors found me in the grass.»Cape Baygubek is depicted on two watercolors by Shevchenko. At the same time he painted the watercolor «Steep shore of Aral sea».

On the way to the West coast the next day the crew met an unknown island, but the expedition passed the cape Uzun-Cairo to replenish their stocks of fresh water, and from there, the evening of September 13, returned to explore the new island, having named it «Nicholas island». It was the first discovery of the expedition. The island was the second largest after Kug-Aral. 7 miles South scientists discovered two smaller islands, called «The Heir» and «Constantine». There was fresh water and lots of fowl on the Nicholas island. During ther stay on the island of Nikolas Shevchenko created four paintings: «The mountainous coast of Nicholas island», «Low shore of Nicholas island» and two under the same name — «The Shore of Nicholas island», but the area they recreated was different.At sunset on 23 September the schooner «Constantine» dropped the anchor at the mouth of the Syrdarya. Full of heavy, exhausting toil stormy Aral Sea navigation was over. The sea exploration was conducted, a coal deposits were found, several islands, previously unknown even to local residents, were measured, everything within 56 days. The greatest depth of the Aral sea was estimated as 68 meters, there were also determined the speed and direction of a permanent current that was moving counterclockwisely, contrarily to other seas and lakes. Some Oligocene shells were found, indicating a much higher water level of the Aral Sea in ancient times.However, it was necessary to prepare for wintering. Captain Butakoff decided to spend the winter with his crew on the island of Kos –Aral (that island does not exist anymore in the nature – the dryout of the sea has led to the fact that it became land with time). Four severe winter months the expedition members spent in hastily constructed barracks. There scientists were working on and systemazing the collected material. This was also the period of preparation for the next navigation. Despite difficult circumstances, for Taras Shevchenko there was a time of active artistic and literary creativity. There he wrote such poems as «Kings», «Marina», «Centurion», «The black cloud covered the sky», «For gold and dear» and others, in total about 50 works.

There is a record in Shevchenko’s diary dated July 16, 1857: «In 1848, three months after the voyage on the Aral Sea, we returned to the mouth of the Syrdarya, where we were to spend the winter. We disembarked near the fort on the island Kos-Aral where the garrison of the Ural Cossacks was situated. The Urals, having saw me with a wide, shovel-like beard, realized immediately that I`m a martyr for the faith. They reported immediately to their commander, Captain Chartbrogoff. He called me in the reeds and, yeah, fell on his knees. “Bless, sir, — he said, — we know everything. And me, not being a fool, I got the point, and gave him the very schismatic sign of the cross. Excited Captain  kissed my hand, and in the evening gave us such a party, that we hadn`t ever dreamt of.»Friends of Shevchenko recalled, that in late winter Shevchenko began to recite them his poems. Then he was drawing a lot. Sepia «Kazakh boy kindles stove», «Kazakh boy on horseback», watercolour «Kazakh on a horse» and a lot of different sketches have been saved. They were the first works in the Kazakh realistic art. Together with other works on Kazakh theme they gave reason for poet A. Tazhibaeva to calle Shevchenko «the founder of the picturesque national Kazakh art». Now one of the best art galleries in Alma-Ata is named in honor of the Ukrainian poet and artist.

The 1849 expedition and systematization of materials

In the end of January 1849 Butakoff received with the regular post on Kos-Aral a diploma of his election a full member of the Russian Geographical Society. At the same time he received an Imperial order about his elevation to the rank of Capitan-Lieutenant. Butakoff began the preparations for a new navigation on the Aral Sea. That expedition was to perform a description of all the Eastern sea coast and numerous islands, to conduct astronomical observations and to finish the depths measurements the Aral Sea. Butakoff divided the expedition into two parts: he instructed Pospelov to conduct a description of the coast, gave him the schooner «Nikolas» and the best sailors, while he himself got to the depth research and determination of astronomical marks. That was pretty risky, because he had to replace sailors, gone with Pospelov, with soldiers and needed to hastily teach them seamanship. Although, Butakoff left Shevchenko and Werner with himself. Being aware of the fact that it was impossible to complete and systematize all the materials in the field, before starting the navigation he had requested to let them be part of the expedition crew after the Aral Sea examination was over, allowing them to come to Orenburg for the final completion of field work. «Both of them, — was noted in the report, — I will need after returning to Orenburg: non-commissioned officer Werner to complete the geological descriptions of the coast and the classification of rock samples and botanical instances which are to be sent to St. Petersburg and which he was charged to collect, and soldier Shevchenko — for the final trimming of picturesque views, that is impossible to be done in the sea, and for transferring hydrographic types on the map after it is made in Orenburg»

Preparation for the navigation in 1849 was somehow delayed. Only on May 6th 1849 everything was ready for departure, and that day the expedition passed from Kos-aral Fort to the North coast of the island, and the next day stood at the mouth of the Syrdarya in order to determine the deviation of the ships` compasses from the correct direction. On the morning of 8th May the schooners «Constantine» and «Nicholas» headed southwards along the Eastern shore of the Aral Sea.Members of the expedition, in fact, were discovering the Aral Sea, because it hadn`t been explored by anyone before Butakoff. They were mapping new islands, the existence of which sometimes was unknown for even the local «Kirghiz» (actually – Kazakhs). According to the tradition, they were perpetuating names of famous people in the names of the discovered islands: the Emperor, his son Constantine, Governor of Orenburg Obruchev etc. Only one cape was named in honor of the capitan. Among the discoveries of the expedition were big deposits of coal on one of the islands. The captain gave that a special value, because the coal was a chance for navigation development in the Aral Sea. Geological studies were conducted by Tomash Werner, who after numerous months in the expedition became one of Shevchenko`s closest friends.

On the morning of 8th May 1849 «Constantine» and «Nicholas» left  the mouth of the Sydarya. The route was extremely difficult. Numerous small islands and shallow waters forced to move carefully and make constant measurements. The first stop was made near the island of Kaskawlan, the next near the island of Coushgitmes. Each island was carefully studied and described. Shevchenko painted a watercolor «Chiquita-Aral Island» and «Chekanaral Island «, which the expedition passed on 17 — 19 May 1849. There they had to stay longer due to the vicious storm. In a few days the expedition discovered and described the new islands – Menshikov and Tolmachev isles, and then, in June — Amudarya and Jalpak strait, Tokmacat island and Bay Taldyk. On June 21, both schooners of the expedition met each other. A. Butakoff gave the schooner «Nicholas» 60 buckets of water from Amudarya and then headed northwards with the schooner «Constantine», hoping to replenish stocks of food at the mouth of the Sydarya river. It was reached on June 30. Here the expedition stood for twenty days. At that time, Shevchenko began to be troubled with severe headaches.

Then the schooner «Constantine» went to the mouth of the Syrdarya river in order to meet there the schooner «Nikolas» and to continue astronomical observations; from there the ship went to Perovsky Bay and the Chubar-Taraus harbour. Three days later it  took a course back to the mouth of the Syrdarya, but the storm forced the crew to stay near the Cape Us-Check, which was painted by Shevchenko. It was his last painting made during the voyage on the Aral Sea of those that have reached us. On September 20th the expedition arrived at the wintering place, after lowering the Brady pennant and the flag to mark the end of the campaign of 1849. On that day, Shevchenko drew in his album a friendly ball on the deck of the schooner on the occasion of the Aral Sea survey and description`s completion.

For four and a half months, the program has been fully implemented. The expedition made a great job, having practically for the first time scientifically examined natural data of the Aral Sea. Obviously, during the voyage on the Aral Sea Shevchenko not only painted, but also created some poetry. In the verse «Well, what, it seemed, just the words» he displayed the image of the «countryman» from Ostrovna:

… The sailor,

Our countryman from Ostrovna,

Standing on watch,

Lamented himself for something,

And once he sang — simply, quiet.

The poet added a note to the word «Ostrovna»: «Orenburg. gub. Shevchenko passed through Ostrovna when he was transported from Orenburg to the Orsk fortress in June 1847.”

Staying on the island and in the Aral expedition in general was full of sorrow, concern and risk, but there was something that was entertaining the poet, that facilitated his stay in the foreign land. Communication with polite, hardworking and energetic people, working with them for describing and measuring the Aral Sea, the study of its natural resources and the future conditions of navigation not only facilitated soldier’s service, but also brought moral satisfaction and the joy of discovery, expanded poet`s outlook. Surely, the expedition was an important learning experience for Shevchenko. Being in a circle of professional scientists of different branches, Shevchenko discovered many new, previously unavailable for him matters.Arriving in Orenburg Shevchenko felt much better. Staying for almost a year and half in the Aral expedition had taken a lot of health, and now he hoped for a calmer, freer creative life. In the city he had friends, the opportunity to correspond with some friends and buddies who were not afraid to communicate with him was restored.To speed up the completion of work, Alexey Butakoff appealed to the staff of the Separate Orenburg corps with a request to allocate Bronislav Zalesky to help Shevchenko, because he could draw. With the help of Zalesky Shevchenko transferred hydrographic panoramas on the map, finished the work on steppe pictures and completed the album of the Aral Sea landscapes. That album was later returned to Shevchenko, and he gave it to K. Ternovyi. The further destiny of these works is unknown.

In 1850, after the arrest and investigation, Shevchenko was exiled to Novopetrovsk fortifications. There is an interesting story related to his way there. While being transferred to the fort, the poet found in the street a willow stick: it served him as a staff in the route. Having arrived in the fort Shevchenko stuck the stick in the ground in the middle of the soldiers ‘ garden, and it grew into the first tree in Novopetrovsk. Later, with the support of the commandant Uskov, Shevchenko chose the site for the garden, developed the plan, marked out where and which trees had to be planted, and in the fall of 1853 the work started there. The trees were brought from Astrakhan and Guriev, on Shevchenko`s advice there were also large mulberry trees transported from Hanga-Baba. A summer house and a gazebo were built in the garden for the commandant`s family. Near the gazebo they constructed a dugout, which became a place of creative inspiration for the Shevchenko. Fort Novopetrovsk was abolished in 1857 and renamed to Aleksandrovsk. The garden became a city garden and has been called “Shevchenko garden”, and the dugout — “Shevchenko`s house” all the time.

Results and Achievements

As a result of field and lab work the first marine (hydrographic) map of the Aral Sea in the Mercator projection at a scale of 8.3 miles to 1 inch was created, which in 1850 was issued by the Hydrographic Department of the Naval Ministry under the title «Map of the Aral Sea, made up according to inventories by Lieutenant Butakoff and Naval Navigator corps of  Corporal Pospeloff in 1848 and 1849». In addition, it was used as a component of large territorial units` maps. The handwritten original of the map (it was its compilation in what Shevchenko took part) with the signature of Chief Quatermaster of Orenburg Separate corps Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Blaramberg is being saved in the Russian State Military Historical archive. In 1853 Alexey Butakoff send a report on mapping under the title of «Information about the expedition, equipped for the description of the Aral Sea in 1848″ to the » Imperial Russian geographical society bulletin». The same year this map was published in a reduced form in English as an appendix to the article by Butakoff «Measurement of the Aral sea» in «The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society» in London. Butakoff added  an album with panoramas of the Aral Sea, beautifully performed by Taras Shevchenko, to the report materials.

The expedition gave the world of science a lot and, according to the characteristics by Taras Shevchenko, «a lot of original, not yet seen in Europe». Expedition members A. I. Maksheev, A. A. Akishev, A. S. Holov and K. D. Rybin were awarded for the research work with the St. Anna Order of the third degree, Werner was promoted to non-commissioned officer, and Shevchenko received only five rubles in silver, regardless the fact that Butakoff also made a request for giving him the rank of Corporal «for merit in creating the map and an album of drawings». A unique map of the Aral Sea earned only «the honorary review by the Geographical society», and that was despite the fact that the review, which was prepared by the members of the Society Commission Polar explorer Admiral P. F. Anjou, geographer 1st Captain  N. P. Manganary, a member of the Admiralty Council Admiral A. I. Seleynota and astronomer A. M. Savich, supported the proposal to note the map with the highest award — Constantine gold medal.

Butakoff himself became a member of the Russian Imperial Geographical Society Council and was awarded with the St. Volodymyr Order of the fourth stage and a yearly rent of 157,5 rubles. He also received a rigid fine for indulgence concerning Shevchenko and was put for several years under the supervision of the Third Department (political police) of His Imperial Majesty`s Personal Office. Such turn of events was certainly caused by a denunciation: the Capitan was recalled that he had violated “the highest will”. It was stated in a secret report of the Military Minister, addressed to the head of the General Naval Staff, that “there was no demanded supervision over Shevchenko from the part of Capitan-Lieutenant Butakoff, and also that this soldier was even allowed by Butakoff himself to do prohibited actions”. “Prohibited actions” are, naturally, drawing. And Butakoff had even added the album to the report. Despite obvious merits, Oleksiy Ivanovich had long felt antipathy in the high authority`s attitude. Disgrace, caused by “the highest” outrage, closed for him all the doors of the capital`s scientific audiences. Only three years later the leader of the significant expedition could make a short report in the Geographical Society.The Aral Expedition report was deservedly appreciated by the great geographers. Having got acquainted with it, German scientist Humboldt wrote “This is a veritable discovery un geography.” Summarizing the research results V. Semenov Tian-Shansky pointed out that its success was impossible without Shevchenko`s incredible illustrations.

The List of the Used Sources of Information:

  1. Генералюк Л.С. «Святим дивом сяють храми божі…». – К., 2013. – 168с.;
  2. Генералюк Л.С. Універсалізм Шевченка: взаємодія літератури і мистецтва. – К., 2000.- 544с.;
  3. Кирилюк Є.П. Тарас Шевченко. – К.,1964. – 650с.
    The article is devoted to the basic steps of Taras Shevchenko's participation in Aral expedition. Much attention is given to the role of Taras Shevchenko in writing seascape painting and the first hydrographic map of the Aral Sea. Also analyzed the contribution of Shevchenko in the study and the image of Kazakhstan's national life.
    Written by: Ishchenko E.O.
    Date Published: 12/26/2016
    Edition: euroasian-science.ru_25-26.03.2016_3(24)
    Available in: Ebook