There are monuments and statutes in Washington, D.C.that honor those who set the foundation for independence; fought for individual human rights; and promote leadership and scholarship.
Taras Shevchenko was a poet, artist and revolutionary. His literary work is regarded to be the foundation for modern Ukranian literature, and to an extent, language.
Born into a peasant family in 1814, Shevchenko rose to fame when he published his collection of poetry, Kobzar (“The Bard”). Kobzar achieved excellence and acclaim for its themes of Ukranian history and culture and the dialect and colloquialisms of the peasants and townspeople. An epic poem Haidamaky (The Haidamakas) and ballad Hamaliia followed.
He made three trips to the Ukraine visiting his enserfed family and intellectuals. His opposition of the tsarist empire grew as he saw the witnessed the poor conditions of the peasants. He put together an album of his etchings Zhivopisnaia Ukraina (Picturesque Ukraine) depicting the historical ruins and cultural monuments. Shevchenko’s involvement with the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood got him arrested on April 5, 1847. Tsar Nicholas I barred him from any writing and painting during the time he was to spend in prison. Despite his punishment, he continued to write about the oppressive regime. He was arrested again for violating the rules and sent to Novopetrovsk. After his release he went to Nizhniy Novgorod. He was forbidden to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg.
He was permitted to go to Ukraine in May 1859 with plans to live there. But fate would take a different turn. Shevchenko was arrested two months later for blasphemy. He was released and ordered to go to St. Petersburg. Shevchenko never stopped fighting for an independent Ukraine. He created a gallery of images, Champions of Sacred Freedom, commending those who fought against injustice and absolutism. He was granted on September 2, 1860, by the Council of Academy of the Arts the title of Academician of Engraving. He died in St. Petersburg on March 10, 1861.
Through art and writing, he expressed injustice and imperialism and promoted nationalism and democracy. Taras Shevchenko is an icon among the Ukrainian diaspora.
The bronze statue is sculpted by Canadian Ukrainian sculptor Leo Mol. The granite monument was carved by Vincent Illuzi of Barre, VT. The statue is located at P Street between 22nd and 23rd Streets, N.W. in Dupont Circle.