Tatyana Nilovna Yablonskaya

Tatyana Nilovna Yablonskaya

1917 —2005
  • Winner of the Stalin prize (1950; 1951)
  • Laureate of the State prize of the USSR (1979)
  • Winner of the national prize named after T. Shevchenko (1998)
  • Gold medal of the Academy of Arts of Ukraine (2004)
  • People's Artist of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1960)
  • People's Artist of the USSR (1982)
  • Hero Of Ukraine (2001)
Tatyana Yablonskaya is a famous Soviet and Ukrainian artist with a unique style and distinguished artistic skills, a teacher and Professor of the Kiev art Academy, a laureate of numerous major state awards and an owner of many notable titles. Yablonskaya predominantly used oil paint as the primary medium her work is mainly composed of landscapes, thematic paintings, and still lifes. Many of her paintings can be placed in the framework of Socialist Realism movement, but each period of her work was marked by new trends, fresh inspiration, original motives. Her canvases are always sincere, born of real curiosity, striving for the ideal, the search for the artistic truth. Yablonskaya's paintings often reflect the concept of Synthetism. Among her most famous and pivotal works are "Bread" (1949, Tretyakov gallery; State prize of the USSR, 1950), "Spring" (1950, Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg; State prize of the USSR, 1951), "Morning" (1954, Tretyakov gallery), "On the Dnieper" (1954), "Together with father" (1961; both works are in the National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kyiv), "Nameless heights" (1969), "Youth" (1969, National Art Museum of Ukraine), "Evening", "Old Florence" (1973; both works are in the Tretyakov gallery), "Life goes on" (1971), "Flax" (1977, State prize of the USSR 1979). UNESCO has declared 1997 as the year of Tatyana Nilovna Yablonskaya. She was not only a gifted artist, a virtuoso of her profession, but also had a fantastic, versatile personality: Tatyana Nilovna was one of the first women in Kiev, who wore a pantsuit; she was passionate about her extremal driving around the city with her white 'Lada' (Zhiguli), and with the money that her first State prize had brought, she has bought a motorboat.

The artist was born on February 24, 1917, in Smolensk in an intelligent and educated family of a recognised local painter, graphic artist and teacher of literature, Nil Aleksandrovich Yablonsky (1888 - 1944). Parents did not approve of the Revolution and its consequences, so initially, the father taught the children at home, not wanting to give to the Soviet school. Nil Aleksandrovich did not leave the choice to his two daughters and son: following the system of his homeschooling, children were supposed to get a profession in the arts. So, it happened in reality: Tatiana's sister, Elena Yablonskaya, also became an artist, and her brother, Dmitry Yablonsky, an architect. In 1928, ten-year-old Tatyana with her family moved to Odessa, Ukraine and fell in love with this country once and for all, later devoting to it a lot of her works and in a very harmonious way gradually absorbing the local culture and traditions. The art of Yablonskaya always glorifies the Ukrainian and Soviet people and the distinctive, vivid life of the places where she visited or lived. However, returning to the artist's childhood, in the history of her family there is also an unsuccessful attempt to escape abroad. In 1930, already living in Kamenets-Podolsk, the family tried to leave the Soviet Union by sea, but at the last moment, their guides did not arrive. The whole idea of moving at first to Odessa, and then to Kamianets-Podilskyi, which is closer to the border, was initially conceived with hope to emigrate. However, the destiny had turned out differently, and the family of Yablonsky moved to Lugansk, where Tatyana graduated from the school in 1933. Then, she entered the Kiev Art College in the same year. After the liquidation of the College in 1935, Tatyana Yablonskaya became a student of the Kiev Art Academy at the faculty of painting in the studio of Professor F. G. Krichevsky. Yablonskaya graduated from the Academy in 1941 with a degree in painting. While studying at the Academy, Yablonskaya was experiencing not only her early professional success but also first love and marriage. The artist went to the evacuation to Saratov already being pregnant with her first child. The hard fate was given to Tatyana Nilovna, like too many other people who experienced the war.

After her husband went to war, Yablonskaya worked in the collective farm village called Norka, in Povolozhye (the Volga Region). During the rare moments of leisure, she painted portraits of dead husbands and sons of her fellow villagers. In 1944, the artist finally returned to the liberated Kiev and again has embarked on the path of art: she started to zealously make up for lost time practising her forgotten artistic skills. Tatyana Yablonskaya was an excellent teacher: she brought up more than one generation of talented Ukrainian painters at the Kiev Art Institute. Her teaching fell in the period from 1947 to 1973. In 1967 she was awarded the title of Professor. During the patriotic rise of the post-war period, the artist created her famous works "Bread" and "Morning", received two state awards, and in every way was enjoying the moments of peaceful life and professional, creative success. Reproductions of the artist's paintings were published in many well-known and popular publications, including Ogoniok. Then, in textbooks and ABC books of the Soviet Union Yablonskaya's paintings have begun to appear and school pupils all around the country were writing their first essays about these artworks. Throughout her career, Yablonskaya participated in many all-Union and international exhibitions, among which were the XXVIII international Art exhibition in Venice (Biennale) in 1956 and the world exhibition in Brussels in 1958. Since graduation, Tatyana Yablonskaya had more than thirty solo exhibitions in Moscow, Kiev, Budapest, London, and other major cities.

However, returning to the 1960s, when there was a radical turning point in the life of Yablonskaya, it is necessary to note a new period in the artist's work, strikingly different from all that art that she used to create. For Tatyana Nilovna, the result of trips with her artists-friends in the Zakarpattia Oblast, across the towns and cities of Western Ukraine, was an incredible, massive discovery of ancient images, motifs, colourful folk costumes and impressive architecture. Thus, over the next ten years, Yablonskaya was deeply passionate about decorative Ukrainian folk motifs, dramatically changing her direction in the art in favour of the ethnographic decoration. Only, the paintings of the Zakarpattia cycle have brought the resentment of the local authorities as well as of the Commission of the Moscow Academy of Arts to the artist. So, Tatyana Yablonskaya was also involved in a painful way in this infamous conflict and massive attack on "Formalism" in the art in the Soviet Union. For several years, Tatyana Nilovna was deprived of the opportunity to participate in exhibitions, and she was dismissed from her official posts. Despite this, Yablonskaya continued to paint enthusiastically and was still following her own creative path. The artist said that she was always rescued by the love of life and enthusiasm, even in the most challenging periods.

Despite the problematic years of "persecution", Yablonskaya still managed to win the trust of the authorities again and was even awarded the third state prize and sent to the Venice Biennale in the 1970s. It contributed to the fact that she returned to a more "traditional" painting, visiting Italy in 1972. As the artist, herself said: "The trip again has changed my mind. The art of the early Italian Renaissance impressed me with its highest spirituality and sincerity. No imitation of anything, but a pure desire to express their intentions as best as possible, to the best of their strength and talent. After a trip to Italy, I came to the firm belief that in his work, the artist should never care about his originality, self-expression, etc., as happened, basically, with the "seeking" artists of the 1960s. Compared with the sincere and pure art of Piero Della Francesca, Masaccio, Gozzoli, Ghirlandaio, Mantegna our search seemed narcissistic affectation". Since then, the awards and titles have not left the artist. Since 1975, she has become to be a full member of the USSR Academy of Arts. In 1982, Yablonskaya received the title of the People's Artist of the USSR. Since 1992, she has been a full member of the Russian Academy of Arts and a full member of the Academy of Arts of Ukraine. Among the numerous titles and awards of Yablonskaya, it is worth noting that she is three times the winner of the state prize of the USSR (1949, 1951, 1979) and a winner of the State prize of Ukraine named after Taras Shevchenko (1998), she also has the titles of the Hero of Ukraine (2001), and Honorary citizen of Kiev (2001).

In 1991, Tatyana Yablonskaya had a heart attack. After a stroke that happened to the artist in 1999, she was confined to a wheelchair, and her right hand was paralysed. Yablonskaya stopped going out and painted mostly still lifes and views that she saw outside the window of her apartment, learning to hold a brush in her left hand. Yablonskaya's latest works seem especially enlightened, airy, harmonious, filled with peace and joy. She ceased painting with oil, taking up the pastel instead, making the works especially visually ephemeral and light. Tatyana Yablonskaya died on June 17, 2005, and she was buried at the Baikove cemetery in Kiev. The State Tretyakov Gallery stores 35 of her paintings, among which the painting "Bread" (1949) is always present in the permanent exposition. The painting is considered as one of the most significant paintings of the Tretyakov Gallery. In 2005, the deputies of the Kiev Council decided to name one of the capital's streets in honour of the artist, and also, the question about the opening of the Museum of Tatyana Yablonskaya has been discussed.


Владич, Л. (1958) Т. Н. Яблоньска. Київ, Державне видавництво образотворчого мистецтва і музичної літератури УРСР. Avaliable at:

Лесниченко, И. (2007). Старшая дочь народного художника Украины Татьяны Яблонской Елена: "Мама увлекалась йогой и могла голодать до 40 дней". [online] Available at:

Полянская, О. (2014). Год 1949 - Горячее сердце Татьяны Яблонской | Журнал "ТРЕТЬЯКОВСКАЯ ГАЛЕРЕЯ". [online] Available at:

Сидельникова, А. (n.d.). Татьяна Яблонская - Биография и информация. [online] Arthive. Available at: (2010). Неповторимая Татьяна Яблонская. [online] Available at: (n.d.). Киевский календарь. [online] Available at:

Soviet Art. (n.d.). Soviet artist Tatyana Yablonskaya - Soviet Art. [online] Available at: