Taras Shevchenko (1814-61) was a Ukrainian artist and writer who is considered the greatest poet of Ukraine and the founder of modern Ukrainian literature. He was born into a family of serfs in the village of Morinsty in present-day Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. Orphaned at an early age, he studied painting with local icon painters. He was taught to read and write, and moved with his master to Vilnius and later to St. Petersburg, where he was allowed to study art. With the help of influential men ...