Євген Котляр. “Жертва фанатизму” Миколи Пимоненка в контексті єврейського мистецтва та “єврейського питання” в Російській імперії

Jewish National Communist Parties and the Comintern: A Non-Mutual Association

By Eugeny Kotlyar

(Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts; Department of Art History)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 2 (2013): 126–141

Publication date: December 1, 2013

Publication type: article

Language: Ukrainian

Full text: 



The paper is a study of a famous painting of the renowned Ukrainian artist Mykola Pymonenko (1862–1912), “Victim of Fanaticism” (1899), which became the embodiment of the “Jewish question” in Russia, as well as the social-democratic movement in art. This work was a reaction to the tragic events in the Volyn town of Kremenetz, where violent persecution by the Jewish community of a young Jewish woman for her relationship with a Ukrainian man and apostasy transpired. The plot of the painting exposed problems of internal and external isolation of the Jews. On the one hand, the cruel dogma of the Jewish Kahal patriarchal despotism, and, on the other hand, the severe consequences of ghettoization of Jews in the “Pale of Settlement.” This work was created in the best traditions of Russian critical realism — a style founded on the ideals of the movement the “Wanderers.” Unlike most of the works produced by non-Jewish artists, the painting had neither anti-Semitic nor pure ethnographic undertones; instead it focused on the main issues and conflicts of the shtetl Jews. For the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, the painting depicted enduring tradition, for modernized Jews — the tyranny of the Jewish ghetto, and for the Russian public — the wild customs of outcasts at the margins of Russian life. At the same time, the work reflected an image of Russian Jewry in its characters and traditional way of life. The latter was reproduced with the precision of a documentary, showing the typical Kremenets natural landscape and the Jewish Quarter. The “Victim of Fanaticism” earned numerous followers in the Jewish community and the general public. The work was redone twice more by the author, and was widely printed on postcards and in albums. Not merely a beautiful masterpiece, the painting exposed the most difficult and shameful issues for Russia surrounding the “Jewish question.”



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