Kharkiv - Radnarkomivska Street

Kharkiv Travel Blog

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The former mansion of the Alchevskyis (now the Palace of Culture at Kharkiv Regional Internal Affairs Administration)

Let’s turn from the Arkhitektora Beketova underground station into one of the most engaging streets in the city. Emerged at the turn of the XVIII and XIX centuries, it used to have different names at different times (Starokladbyshchenska, Kasperivska, Mironosytskyi Lane. Here, at the close of the XIX - the beginning of the XX centuries, there was erected a unique beautiful ensemble of buildings, four of which designed by O. Beketov.

Several high-rises tower at the beginning of the street, though the former mansions constitute the majority of the buildings. This type of dwelling houses was exceptionally popular with the Kharkivites at the close of the XIX century.

Monument to policemen killed in action
It warrants the contemporary outlook of comfort and cosiness, life essentials and the tastes of the new customer - the bourgeoisie, with the amplified technical facilities enabling the transformation of this type of buildings into more comfortable and snug dwellings as compared to the forerunning manors.

The manors were conspicuous by the varied stylistics of architectural forms, as well as volume and space compositions. The manor layout and its front, were the owner’s visiting card, reflecting his mode of living, wants, needs and preferences.

Seeking to create the utmost comfort, altering the illumination and the arrangement of the rooms, the architects applied specific tools to execute the ceremonial and the dwelling parts of the manors. This was reflected in the premises dimensions and their placement, window arrangements which were different in form and placement, as well as the arrangement of galleries, balconies, loggias, belvederes, and towers.

The former mansion of I. Ihnatishchev (now Kharkiv Art Museum)

The districts were divided into small strips and the mansions, arranged along the «red line» (edge) of the street, often merged into a solid uninterrupted row. Only in some exceptional instances were the buildings erected with an insignificant setback from the street, with the district dividing line marked by the metal fence. Such is the former mansion at 13 Radnarkomivska Street (designed by the architect O. Beketov in 1893), which belonged to the most eminent manufacturer and financier A. Alchevskyi and his wife, the prominent enlightener Kh. Alchevska. The house was encircled by the garden, where the first-in-the-world monument to Taras Shevchenko was set up by the sculptor V. Beklemeshev, head of the sculptural studio at Petersburg Arts Academy.

O. Lytovchenko. The Italian ambassador Calvucci is drawing the beloved Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich’s falcons. 1889
Initially Alchevskyi planned on erecting the monument in the public garden, but the Authorities turned down the project, and the monument remained in the mansion. After A. Alchevskyi’s bankruptcy and his demise, the family was forced to sell the mansion, whose new owner had no desire to have the monument to the poet in disgrace on his mansion territory. And that’s the reason why it was kept by the Alchevskis’ for a long period of time. Today we can see the monument in the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National Museum.

The building was erected after Italian Late Renaissance country villas and initially was enclosed with open terraces. The preserved front interiors are distinguished by the harmony of the plastic execution in the forms of Late Renaissance. In 1921 they launched here the Chekists’ Club, where F.

I. Repin. Zaporizhya Cossacks are writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan. 1889–1896
 Dzerzhynskyi and O. Makarenko frequently delivered their speeches. In 1945 the hall was attached to the interior wall of the mansion. At present the mansion houses the Palace of Culture at Kharkiv Regional Internal Affairs Administration (IAA), comprising a whole complex of organisations. Here belongs the Kharkiv IAA History Museum.

In the territory of the Palace of Culture there were erected the monument to the militiamen, who perished combating crime (architect S. Chechel’nyts’kyi and sculptor A. Illichev), and Archistratig Mykhailo’s Chapel (architect V. Novgorodov).

The mansion at 11 Radnarkomivska Street, which used to belong to Ivan Ihnatyshchev, a respected Kharkivite, the owner of a major Rossia brewery, was also built after O.
I. Aivazovskyi. Gurzuf. 1859
 Beketov’s design project in 1913. In compliance with the plan, the «П»-shaped building has an asymmetrical composition. Its appearance is defined by the blend of artistic techniques of Renaissance and Modernist styles. Over the front entrance, covered by an arch, there is a large window aperture that throws light onto the front stairs. The aperture displays a profuse plastic flanking with the application of three-quarter columns of the Ionic order and moulded sculpture details.

The elements of the peculiar design are ceramic multi-coloured fillings in the intercolumnal space of the arcades, edging the widow apertures of the first floor. This glazed ceramics must have been produced in Poltava region, and the parget flanking - at Kharkiv K. Peshchinsnskyi and Rikha Sculpture Enterprise.
S. Vasylkovskyi. The Cossack Levada

In the interior design, as in the majority of O. Beketov’s constructions, the architect’s favourite motives of Ancient Greece were applied. It is particularly evident in the cassette ducting vault front hall with the stairs leading up to the first floor. From the front entrance, on the level of the first floor, we can see the stained-glass widow, peculiarly «balanced» on the opposite landing by the ornamental stucco risalto with the cornice, embellished by the flower holders and garlands. Metallic banisters of the front stairs in the form of palmettos. The glazed tiles, portraying vegetable and fruit garlands and featuring geometrical figures, adorn the walls over the front tiled steps.

This house didn’t belong to the Ihnatishchevys long: in 1917 it was sold to the merchant Levytskyi, after the revolution it was nationalized, and in 1931-1932 it housed the exhibition of canvases by Taras Shevchenko.

The former Kh. Alchevska’s Sunday School (now an exhibition hall at Kharkiv Art Museum)

On March 25, 1944 the collection of the State Picture Gallery, brought back from the evacuation, provided for the creation of the State Museum of Ukrainian Art. Subsequently, it was twice renamed: Kharkiv State Museum of Fine Arts (1949) and Kharkiv Art Museum (1965).

Kharkiv Art Museum

Its collection is by right considered one of the most valuable in Ukraine.

The history of this unique collection of the works of Art can be traced back to 1805, when V. Karazin bought for Kharkiv University 2477 graphic canvases of West European painters.

The former O. Beketov’s mansion (now the House of Scientists)
At that time the collection comprised the works of the celebrated artists of the XVI-XVIII centuries: A. Durer, Ch. Holcius, L. Giordano, A. van Dyck, F. Boucher, etc.

In 1856-1958 the collection acquired the University graduate I. Betskyi’s gifts: he conferred more than 500 works of the European painters of the ĐĄVІ-ĐĄVІІІ century, including the following: I. van Kleve, F. Furini, L. Mekhus, A. Sakki, P. da Corton and others.

In accordance with the will of another University graduate, A. Alferov, in 1873 the museum acquired 50 canvases of Dutch painters, as well as 3000 masterpieces of the painters representing various European schools.
The dining Room at the House of Scientists

The works in these collections, constituting part of the University Museum of Fine Arts and Antiquity, provide the basis of the Foreign Art Section at Kharkiv Art Museum.

The collection of the Ukrainian and Russian Pre-Revolution Art Section, the formation of which started in the second half of the ХІХ century and was connected with the activity of Kharkiv City Art and Industry Museum, displays unique Ukrainian icons of the ĐĄVI-XVIII centuries, the works by A. Losenko, V. Borovikovskyi, D. Levytskyi, I. Aivazovskyi, I. Shyshkin, V. Polenov, V. Vasnetsov, V. Orlovskyi, P. Martynovych, S. Vasylkovskyi, P. Levchenko, M. Berkos, M. Pimonenko, S. Svetoslavskyi, I. Repin, V. Surikov, O. Murashko, S. Zhukovskyi, H. Narbut, etc.

Despite numerous reorganizations of the 1920-1930s, on the eve of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), the picture gallery collection counted approximately 75,000 exhibits and was deemed one of the best in the USSR. However, it had not been included into the evacuation plan, as the result of which only the most valuable exhibits were evacuated (4.7 thousand articles). It was them and the canvases that underlay the after-war museum that is gaining popularity again notwithstanding the sustained irreparable losses.

In the 1970s the museum acquired the collections of A. Podkopay, M. Fradkin, Ye. Spektor.

The year 1986 was marked by the transfer of the premises for the exhibition hall (at 9 Radnarkomivska) to Kharkiv Art Museum as well as by the affiliation of the Parkhomivskyi History and Art Museum (Chervonokutskyi district). This museum, started by a school teacher, A. Lunyov, possesses a unique collection of works of Fine Arts, Decorative Art, archeological and history memorials. Its collection features ancient icons, works by Taras Shevchenko, I. Shishkin, K. Kryzhytskyi, Ye. Arkhipov, A. Benois, S. Konenkov, V. Kasiyan, etc.

The exhibition hall of the museum also houses the Slobozhanshchyna Folk Art Museum (SFAM), established in 1991, since 1994 it has been the branch of Kharkiv Art Museum. The SFAM stock possesses rare embroidery samples, ceramics, wood engraving, and folk painting. The branch maintains very close contacts with the Kharkiv National Union of the Ukrainian Folk Art Masters and is known as the folk art promoter.

At present the stock of the principal Kharkiv Art Museum counts more than 23 000 items of West-European, Ukrainian and Russian painting, XV-XX centuries’ graphic arts, unique works of India and the Far East masters. The museum is very active in exhibiting performance, staging annually more than 40 exhibitions both out of its own stock and those jointly organized with other museums, Ukrainian art groups, foreign embassies and cultural centres. Over the past years the museum has repeatedly exhibited its works in the USA, Germany, Poland, Finland, and Lithuania.

Research of the collection itself, as well as the history of artistic life and the creative work of modern artists in Kharkiv region, occupies a significant place in the museum work. International research conferences are annually held at the museum.

At the museum lectures are delivered, music and poetry evening parties are held, creative associations and clubs sessions are carried out. Most of the events, organized by the museum, are free.

Over the past years the museum has become one of the most popular cultural centres of Kharkiv, with more than 150,000 people attending it annually.

The above mentioned edifice at 9 Radnarkomivska Street, built by the architect O. Beketov in 1869 for the Sunday School of Kh. Alchevska, should be mentioned separately.

Founded in 1862, the School was initially situated in the house owned by the Alchevskis in Yekaterynoslavska Street, and afterwards - in the building of the Parish College. In 1894 Kh. Alchevs’ka bought the land from I. Kasperov, on which the building of the Sunday Church School for Females had been erected by the year 1896, with the total price amounting to 50,000 roubles. Half of this sum constituted the assets that accrued due to the shares, confined to the Sunday Church School by A. Alchevskyi, when founding the Land Bank. The other half - 25,000 roubles - was deposited by Kh. Alchevs’ka. The project of the building in the Renaissance style was designed by the academician O. Beketov free of charge.

At the entrance to the ground floor there was a spacious hall for walks during recesses. Round the hall there were five classrooms and the teachers’ cloakroom.

On Sunday these classrooms were occupied by young girls attending the Sunday School, on weekdays they were taken by the city school. The first floor was allotted to the senior students. The largest room of the upper storey was the teachers’ hall to talk to senior students, to meet, and to hold school holidays events. Next to the hall there was a museum of visual aids and the students’ library. At the entresol there was a doctor’s room, and in the semi-basement - the students’ cloakroom, the premises for the watchmen and maintenance facilities.

10-year-old girls, as well as grown-up women, were admitted into the school. Juniors were enrolled into a small school. Alongside with Reading, Spelling, Maths, Divine Law, they were also taught Geography, Drawing, and Singing.

About 20,000 people had finished a course of study at Kh. Alchevska’s School over the 50-year period under her supervision. Khrystyna Alchevska’s name is closely associated with the whole trend in the realm of organising a folk school, with her experience and methods of teaching presented and highly praised at the Moscow (1895) and Nyzhnyohorods’k (1896) exhibitions. At the World exhibition in Paris in 1889 her book «What should be read to the people?» was a real hit. Khrystyna was elected Vice-President of the International Education League at the Congress of Private Initiative in Educating People in 1890.

The mansion, used to be owned by O. Beketov himself, is situated at 10 Radnarkomivska Street, where the House of Scientists is quartered at present.

This mansion was featured as a sample of domestic architecture in World Architecture History printed by Baranovskyi.

The mansion is of asymmetrical composition, governed by the rational mutual placement of the interior premises. Its fronts are executed in forms of Late Renaissance with an extensive application of ancient architectural styles elements. The front first floor is flanked by sumptuous platbands, high-grade in plasticity capping, engaged columns of the Ionic order. The inherent distinctiveness of this building was due to the earlier existing deep loggia, whose coverage was propped by the female sculptures - caryatids. Unfortunately, the after-war reconstructions deprived the House of Scientists of the corner loggia with caryatids.

We should pay a particular attention to the building interiors, solemnly ornamented by moulding and painting. The murals of the following painters have survived: M. Pestrykov (grass ornament in Old Russian Style on the tower-chambers vaults and dining hall), and M. Uvarov (a picturesque plafond in the main show hall). The interior of the principal staircase is embellished by the stained glass window, executed in Germany after O. Beketov’s drafts (restored in 1969 by Kharkiv artists A. Pronin and H. Tyshchenko), and even the furniture in the house was made after O. Beketov’s drafts.

The House of Scientists opened here in 1925, at present the organisation counts about 2,000 city researchers. The building hosts research work groups; lectures, seminars, disputes, concerts, consultations, personal exhibitions are also arranged here.

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The former mansion of the Alchevs…
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Monument to policemen killed in a…
The former mansion of I. Ihnatishc…
The former mansion of I. Ihnatish…
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O. Lytovchenko. The Italian ambas…
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I. Aivazovskyi. Gurzuf. 1859
I. Aivazovskyi. Gurzuf. 1859
S. Vasylkovskyi. The Cossack Levada
S. Vasylkovskyi. The Cossack Levada
The former Kh. Alchevska’s Sunda…
The former Kh. Alchevska’s Sund…
The former O. Beketov’s mansion …
The former O. Beketov’s mansion…
The dining Room at the House of Sc…
The dining Room at the House of S…
photo by: viktosha