A perfect Odessa gentleman: the painter Evgeny Bukovetsky
The figure of the Odessa portraitist Evgeny Osipovich Bukovetsky can be considered one of the key figures of the cultural life of Odessa, in the late 19th, early 20th centuries.
In his house and studio in Knyazheskaya street, 27, Bukovetsky gathered for many years the “cream” of the cultural aristocracy, and not only from Odessa. The writer Ivan Bunin (future Nobel prize) lived in his house, last year of his life in Russia, before emigrating because of his aversion to the Bolsheviks. Being a wealthy man, he used to organise dinners and feasts, but invited only men. For this reason he was seen as “the enemy of all Odessa wives”.
Dinners took place weekly on Thursdays, then on Sundays. Bukovetsky’s table was distinguished by its subtlety and originality. For example, they wrote that the fish was served before the soup. He was an exquisite gentleman, intelligent, with great taste, who tried to be graceful in everything. In his evenings, he also used to play the piano.
His mansion on Knyazheskaya was one of the most significant “cultural nests” in the city.
Born in December 17, 1866, Bukovetsky was from a military family, but became a painter. He graduated at the Drawing School of the Odessa Society of Fine Arts, one of the best in Russian Empire, with teachers like G.A. Ladyzhensky and K.K. Kostandi. Then, he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, but soon left it and went to complete his education to Paris and Munich.
He returned to Odessa in 1891 and, since then, constantly participated in exhibitions of South Russian artists in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In 1894, together with his good friend Peter Alexandrovich Nilus, he founded the charter of the Association of South Russian Artists. Bukovetskiy was sufficiently rich not to be worried about the need to work or teach. In 1905. he participated in the design of the Odessa art satirical magazine “Ringing”.
The hundreds of portraits painted by Bukovetsky are a kind of history of the time by persons: the young journalist Chukovsky, professors Pavlovsky and Lazursky, the architect Nesturkh, the aviator Utochkin, the Odessa historian librarian De Ribas, the writer Ivan Bunin and the artist Peter Nilus and many others, who personify the cultural pride of Odessa. One of his works was acquired by the Tretyakov Gallery (“From a rich relative”, 1891).
Bukovetsky mostly loved to act as a patron of the arts. He collected an extensive collection of paintings, a significant part of which was the work of South Russian artists. His gallery contained also good examples of French contemporary art. He collected not only paintings, but also very valuable Italian ceramics of the 17th century; then samples of Japanese art, as well as ancient Greek vases. Moreover, he had a big collection of icons and old prints and tapestries of great artistic value.
After the Russian Civil war, in 1922, he became one of the founders of the Art Society named after K.K. Kostandi . From 1937 to 1945, was teacher at the Odessa Art School.
The first marriage of Evgeny Bukovetskiy was with V. Prokudina, who left him and emigrated to France in 1917 with her daughter Irina Evgenievna Bukovetskaya.
Alexandra Mitrofanovna Alekseeva became the artist’s second wife in 1923. After the death of her husband, Alexandra Mitrofanovna continued living in the mansion at Knyazheskaya street 27; she kept the richest heritage and archive of her husband until her death in 1956.
Evgeny Bukovetsky died on July 27, 1948, and was buried at the Second Christian Cemetery in Odessa.
Bukovetsky’s works are presented in the Odessa Fine Arts Museum, the Kherson Art Museum. Shovkunenko, Vinnitsa Art Museum, Zaporizhzhya Art Museum, National Art Museum of Ukraine and a number of private collections.