Ivan Fedorov museum in Lviv

Ivan FedorovFrom time immemorial Lviv has been famous for its museums: historical, artistic, literary. There are over ten state and forty folk museums. In December 1977 one more was added to the number — the Ivan Fedorov Museum (a department of the Lviv Art Gallery). Its exposition is dedicated to the Russian pioneer of printing, the founder of bookprinting in Russia and the Ukraine.

This museum is housed in the former Saint Onufry Monastery. It is no mere chance for the Museum to have been opened here: it is in the courtyard of this monastery that one frosty December day of 1583 the great son of Russia was buried. And this is not the only fact that ties Ivan Fedorov up with Lviv. Many years of work and endeavour, strife and hopes had bound him to this olden town, to the Ukraine. History concealed from us the real motives that urged him, first recognized and favoured by Ivan Grozny, to leave Moscow. Whatever the reasons for departing from Moscow, circum-stances turned out so that just in Lviv, in 1574, did Ivan Fedorov published The Apostle and the Primer, the first books printed in Ukrainian. Thereby he started Ukrainian bookprinting.


The Museum building.


The architectural complex of the former St, Onufry Monastery is dated by the 16th — 19th centuries. But the church included in it (architectural relic, safeguarded by the State) is said to have been founded earlier — as far back as the Galician Prince Lev Daniilovich (circa 1228—circa 1301). Written sources mention it from the middle of the 15th century. Through its history the monastery withstood many a siege, was burned down more than once, and was often being rebuilt. Thus the present view of the church had been formed by the beginning of the present century. The carved wooden iconostasis embellishing the temple’s interior belongs to that same time. It was created in 1909 by folk masters after the famous Krasnopushchansky iconostasis of the 18th century. The icons for it were executed by the Ukrainian painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries Modest Sosenko.

Up to our days have survived the bell tower over the arch and the defence-walls with loopholes which in 1693 — 1698 enclosed the monastery. They turned the monastery into a fortress where townspeople could find refuge from enemies in case of need.

Almost from its very foundation the monastery w'as in the keep of the Stauropegia Fraternity — an Orthodox community of the Ukrainian lower middle classes. In the 17th century there appeared the so-called Minor Fraternity dependent on the Stauropegia. From the end of the 16th till the second half of the 18th centuries there was a hospital attached to the monastery which became a kind of asylum for solitary infirm people and for the aged invalids sometimes; besides, there was a seminary for the needy students of the Fraternity school. In the years of 1608 — 1616 one of the monastery cells housed the Fraternity print-shop. For some time Iliya, Denis Sinkevich, well-known Ukrainian engravers, worked there. The epitaph stones made into the church walls remind us of that period in the history of the St. Onufry Monastery. One of them, to the right from the church, is to commemorate Moldavian Hospodar Stephen VII Tomshe executed in Lviv Rynok Square in 1564. The plate bears the coat-of-arms of the Moldavian hospodars — a bullock’s head with a crown. On the opposite wall there is a plate with the epitaph text in Greek in memory of the Lviv Fraternity public man Marco Lan-ghish. These and other tombstones (all of them made of sandstone) have preserved for us the names of distinguished townsmen who lived in Lviv in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Entrance  to the museum


At the entrance to the Museum we are welcomed by a bronze memorial plate with a bas-relief image of Ivan Fedorov and the text in Ukrainian: “Here in the churchyard the founder of book-printing and the Russian pioneer of printing was buried in the year of 1583”. The author of the sculpture is the Lviv sculptor Anatoly Galyan. Through the gate of the bell tower we get into a vast courtyard. To on the left of the entrance is the sculptural composition “Ivan Fedorov and His Helpers”. The 3,5 metres tall figure of the printer stands in the centre, strong and imposing. He looks reserved and composed: a hard lot had fallen upon the printer. Beside him are his associates, his faithful friends. One of them is romantic, light as the flight of a dream, he might be a poet or an artist; the other is thickset, powerful in his build — he personifies hard labour of a printer, the very making of a book. The composition as a whole is in keeping with the surrounding architecture, and towering over the adjoining buildings and dwelling-houses it is clearly silhouetted against the sky. Its author is the already mentioned sculptor A. Galyan. He succeeded in embodying the grandeur of the Printer’s selfless labour, the uncommonness of his deed.


Beginning of an exposition


The museum’s exposition proper is displayed in the former church. The documental and other materials collected here are arranged in chronological order. They reveal the historical prerequisites for the rise of Ukrainian book-printing, tell about the hard life and selfless activities of Ivan Fedorov, about the continuation of his great deed by Soviet publishers and printers. The museum’s exposition opens with the materials narrating about the beginning of book-printing. One of the stands contains a replica of the engraving representing an old printing-house of the 15th century pertaining to the times of the printing initiator Johann Gutenberg. Just then, in Germany, a printing press and a case of separate types moulded in metal were introduced for the first time into the practice of text editing. They underlay the subsequent polygraphic engineering.

In due course bookprinting spread all over Europe.


Manuscript books


With the Eastern Slavs bookprinting was preceded by the six-hundred-year-old manuscript book tradition which had played an outstanding part in the development of home culture and education. The most ancient literary relics of the home manuscript book which have reached us belong to the times of the Kiev Russ. The best known among them is the Ostromirov Gospel (1056— 1057). The exposition presents facsimile copies of manuscript books which were in circulation on the territory of the Western Ukraine and have been preserved up to our time in the Lviv Ukrainian Art Museum. The most ancient one — Antioch Pandects — dates as far as 1307.

A distinctive peculiarity of the ancient Ukrainian manuscript book is the unity of principles of their creation and their artistic arrangement. Almost every book of the 11th — 14th centuries is written in Cyrillic alphabet — in the penmanship of Greek and Slavonic manuscripts. Because of its complicated letter shape the Glagolic script did not get wide spread among the Eastern Slavs. The elements characteristic of the Slavic book only are: the ligature done in cinnabar, polychromatic head-pieces (vignettes) representing intricate interlacings of geometrical figures with vegetable ornament or images of fantastic animals and birds, fanciful coloured initials, skilfully executed miniatures, leather or velvet bindings gorgeously decorated with stamping and metal adornments. All these peculiarities which were taking shape from century to century came to be used in Eastern Slavic printed book. It is not by mere chance that experts observe thorough and close continuity of the manuscript book traditions in the printed book.


museum in LvivTowards the end of the 15th century the copying of books — a labour-consuming and costly business — could no longer meet an ever growing demand for books. Only the use of a printing-press could cater to this demand. The first shop printing books of Slavic Cyrillic script was founded in Krakow in the early nineties of the 15th century by Schweipolt Fiol. At that time he published the Oktrikh, the Prayer-book, the Lenten Triodes (Book of church-prayers), the Triodes Coloured. Printing his books in Cyrillic alphabet in Krakow, which was at that time a Catholic centre, Fiol must have meant them for Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian readers. These publications stood up against the forced catholization of the orthodox people. Therefore, it was not by chance that in 1491, immediately after those books came out, Fiol’s publishing house was destroyed by the Catholic capitulum and the books were confiscated. The editor himself was brought to trial by the Inquisition for “heresy”. And nevertheless, despite its short existence, Fiol’s printing-house, his editorial activity contributed to the enlivening of the literary process, to a further propagation of reading and writing among people, it became an essential factor of strengthening Russian-Ukrainian-Byelorussian ties.

A further section of the exposition is dedicated to the activities of the Byelorussian pioneer of printing Francisk Skoryna who played an exceptional part in the development of native bookprinting. Skoryna was born in about 1485 in a small Byelorussian town of Polotsk, was educated in Krakow and Padua. Owing to historical circumstances he began his activities in 1517 in Prague. There he published his Book of Psalms and the Bible for “common people to learn”. The latter is interesting for its small size, its use of byelorussisms, its numerous pictures with a plain plot. It must have been intended for reading at home, which in itself was an extraordinary fact for the time. The Bible of Skoryna is unusual not only because of its numerous illustrations and ornamental adornments but also, for containing the Printer’s self-portrait. In this portrait Skoryna is shown as a scholar in his study, with books and a globe. There is also the Printer’s imprint (the sun and the moon) which is found in many subsequent engravings by Skoryna.

Later the printer moves to Vilno where he founds a Cyrillic printing-house. There, in 1522, he printed the Little Travel Book and in 1525 he did the Apostle. The first of these books, edited in '/12 was intended for common people, peddlers and artisans. Skoryna’s books are notable for the use of elements of living spoken language, there are few archaisms, which testifies to the democratic nature of the books. The forewords, afterwords and supplements with which the printer provided his editions speak in favour of his learning and his educational ideals. In his books Skoryna condemned the vices of the feudal society, came out in defence of freedom and equality of all people, for people’s education. “Never grudge either labour or goods and chattels for your motherland” was the motto of the humanist. Clear, neat types, original design put the books of Skoryna in series of the best editions of the time. They started national traditions in Byelorussian book-printing.


Dawn of Russian bookprinting


The history of Russian bookprinting, com- plicated and irregular in its development, is closely connected with the historical fortunes of the nation, its culture as a whole. The territorial expansion of the Russian State during the reign of Ivan Grozny, the development of the country’s productive forces necessitated a substantially greater amount of books and unification of liturgical texts, elimination of numerous errors, inaccuracies that crept in due to the copyists’ fancy. Thus bookprinting in Russia became a social necessity. Its previous history goes as far back as the early attempts at book-printing. The years of 1550-s see the so-called “anonymous issues” (neither place nor year or the printer’s name is indicated thereon). Scholars presume that all of them were printed in Moscow, most likely in the years of 1553 — 1564 by the “master of printed books” Marusha Nefedyev. A notion of those publications is given by the narrow-type Gospel exhibited at the museum. Regular Russian bookprinting begins from 1564 when Ivan Fedorov and Pyotr Mstislavets published in Moscow the Apostle. The publication of this book containing the indication of the author, place and time of the issue is a most important event in Russia’s cultural life of the 16th century. This book is remarkable in every respect: editorial, technical, artistic. It is notable for its stylystic unity, harmony of its artistic design, excellent shapes of print.


Materials narrating about the life and activities of Ivan Fedorov make a larger part of the next section of the museum’s exposition. It opens with a replica of the ancient plan of the Moscow Kremlin. Among other old Russian big cathedrals it contains a small church of Nikola Gostunsky (not survived). Here, in the years of 1550-s Ivan Fedorov served as deacon. Reliable information about the early period of the printer’s life is almost unavailable. One can only surmise that he was born approximately between 1510 and 1525, learnt printing in an “anonymous” printing-house. From the afterword to the Lviv Apostle we know that in 1563 the Tsar Ivan Grozny “enjoined that for money from his, tsar’s, coffers a house be erected where printing be done”. It was here that on the 19th of April 1563 the printing of the Apostle was started. The book appeared next year on the first of March. Besides it, Ivan Fedorov, together with Pyotr Mstislavets, issued in Moscow in 1565 two editions of another book — the Book of Hours. Scholars believe that the small-size collection of different prayers was often used as a text-book.

In about 1567 the printers, as mentioned above, leave Moscow for an unknown reason and go to the Lithuanian Principality. The feudal state at that time comprised Byelorussian and a considerable part of Ukrainian lands. The following group of exhibits transfers us to a little Byelorussian town of Zabludiv (now part of P.P.R.) where in 1568 the Moscow pioneers of printing founded a printing-house, sponsored by the hetman G. A. Chodkiewicz. There, in 1569, they printed their last joint publication — the Didactic Gospel. And there Ivan Fedorov, now by himself (Pyotr Mstislavets moved to Vilno), published the Psalter and Concise Book of Hours. Those issues played a tremendous part in the cultural and political life of Byelorussia in the 16th century. This book was a reliable support in the struggle for the assertion of national culture. It should be added, that the Psalter served for a long time as the main book for learing reading and writing.

Soon, however, the patron of Ivan Fedorov hetman G. Chodkiewicz fell ill and gave up his educational undertakings. He granted the printer an allotment and enjoined that he busy himself with land-tilling. But it was not in that sphere that the great enlightener saw his vocation. Later, in his afterword to the Lviv Apostle he would write: "... it does not become me to while away the days of my life by ploughing soil and by sowing seeds, because instead of the plough I possess the art of managing manual labour tools, and must gain my bread by casting seeds for thought and spirit over the universe..."


Convinced of the importance of his vocation and the pursuit he started, Ivan Fedorov dreams of establishing his own printing-house independent of either magnates or patrons. With this aim in mind, in the autumn of 1572 he leaves Zabludov and makes his way to the Ukraine, to Lviv. Surmounting all the troubles and hardships of the journey, aggravated by "pestilence", by the end of the year the printer reaches "the famous town of Lviv", one of the largest economic and cultural centres of Eastern Europe of the time.



The enlarged photo of F. Gogenberg’s engraving after the ancient drawing by A. Passarotti gives a notion of the feudal Lviv of its architecture and its defences of those times. The indigenous population of this big town, which was a peculiar conglomeration of different peoples, endured social and national oppression. They were carrying on an unceasing struggle for the assertion of national culture in which a significant role was assigned to the book. In 1572 the Ukrainjan citizens of Lviv succeeded in obtaining the right to inaugurate a higher school. Thus, in the last third of the 16th century the conditions for printing books and establishing a printinghouse were quite favourable there.


In Lviv Ivan Fedorov took up his residence in the house of the artisan Adam Bondar (the house stood in Krakowska Street in place of the now existing house No. 4). Besides the owner’s family artisans lodged there. Most likely there was a print-shop in the house, too. At the exposition a recently found copy of the “Schoss”-book of 1573 is displayed. In books like this payments (“Schoss”) raised from the town population were registered. Among the citizens lodging in the above mentioned house and paying Schoss in 1573 a “Russian printer” (impressor Ruthenus) is recorded. Next to it are duplicates of documents dating to 1573 — 1574 (the originals are kept in the Lviv Central State Historical Archives of the Ukrainian SSR). From them we learn that the printer Ivan Fedorov was allowed to engage apprentices bound to joiners to work at the print-shop. Establishing and equipping a printing-house required means, and rather substantia] at that. So the printer was obliged to ask for help from the noble and the rich, but, as he wrote later, his "plaintive words, his tearful sobs were lost upon them and no help was obtained from the priestly ranks” and support came another way: from common townspeople, Ukrainian artisans. He made friends with suburban artisans: the saddler Senko, the tanner Yatsko, the painter Lavrenti Pilipovich Pukhala and many others. At the beginning of 1573 the printing-house was established. An approximate notion of it can be gained from the printing-press of the first half of the 17th century and the press of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, exhibited at the museum. They are the oldest of the print-shop equipment survived in the Ukraine.

In February 1573 Ivan Fedorov started printing the first book in the Ukraine — the Apostle. It appeared in February 1574. Its appearance was the initiation of the Ukrainian printed book. From this time the history of Ukrainian book-printing is counted off.


The Lviv Apostle was patterned after the Moscow one. It differs only by its bigger volume and richer artistic design. At the end of the book the printer put his imprint (a branchy acanthus bough with the Lviv emblem and Ivan Fedorov’s imprint). Below it runs the text: “Ivan Fedorov, Moscovit Printer”. In this edition the printer slightly altered the engraving representing St. Luke. Its architectural shape remained the same as in the Moscow Apostle, but the image of the saint is different. The monogram ЛП (LP) on the engraving suggests the authorship of the painter Lavrenti Pukhala. The Lviv edition contains one more engraving — the coat-of-arms of G. Chodkiewicz and, which is most important, this edition is supplemented with an afterword: “A Tale of ... whence this printing-house began and how it was run”. The pages of this literary relic help the reader to fancy an attractive image of the inspired bookmaker, a man of outstanding talent.

It is of some interest to learn that the copy of the Apostle exhibited at the museum was kept from the 17th century up to early 20th century in the village of Lisnevichi, Lviv province. Thoroughly realizing the importance of education for his people, Ivan Fedorov publishes in the same year of 1574, in Lviv, the Primer, the first printed text-book of Eastern Slavs. The book is of small size (octavo) and consists of 40 unnumbered pages. There are two engravings placed at the end of it — one represents the emblem of Lviv, the other bears Ivan Fedorov’s imprint with the inscription: “Printed in Lviv in the year of 1574”. This edition of Fedorov’s became henceforth a pattern for numerous Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian manuals. The visitors of the museum have an opportunity to get acquainted with a photo-mechanical reproduction of the Primer done in 1964 by the Ukrainian Publishing House “Dnipro”.


The pioneer printer moves to Ostrog.


At the beginning of 1575 Ivan Fedorov left Lviv for the town of Ostrog in Volyn, where at that time a peculiar cultural and educational centre originated. There concentrated scholars, writers-polemicists, came into existence a Ukrainian higher school. The printing-house headed by the pioneer of printing was closely connected with the Ostrog College, with the activities of the scientific-literary society. There, in collaboration with the Ostrog philologists, in 1574, Ivan Fedorov published another Reader (ABC Book) and in 1580 — 1581 the Book of New Testament intended for family reading, the Book... by Tymofiy Mykhailovich, a firstling of native bibliography, Chronology by Andrei Rymsha, in the shape of a separate calendar leaflet, and the Bible, a masterpiece of printing, monumental in size. In the latter ornamental decorative motifs of Ukrainian manuscript book, traditions of folk art were used. Thus it is no mere chance that the Ostrog Bible became a model of polygraphic mastery for the posterior generations of printers. The Ostrog issues by Ivan Fedorov were popular far beyond the borders of the Ukraine, they were very well known in Russia, Byelorussia, Moldavia, highly appreciated in Western Europe. Striving on for independent editorship, for running a printing-house of his own, Ivan Fedorov returns in 1582 to Lviv. But his creative plans were fated to failure. Suddenly he fell seriously ill and on December 5th, 1583 he died in the house of the tailor Anton Abrahamovich. in the Lviv suburb Podzamche.


After the death of the printer his Lviv printing-house was redeemed by the Lviv Fraternity. The exposition displays a duplicate of the charter by Constantinople patriarch Jeremiah endowing the establishment in Lviv of a fraternity, with a school and printing-works. Fedorov’s printing presses, plates and types remained in use for centuries. Thus ornamental decorations of his editions can be found in many books of the Lviv Fraternity printing-works. For instance, the tail-piece (colophon) of the Lviv Apostle of 1574 was used in the book Hirmologon (Lviv, 1816), the imprint of Ivan Kunotovich (Octoikh, Lviv, 1639) was done anew after the imprint of Ivan Fedorov. Neither ceased functioning after the death of the printer the Ostrog printing-house. Ivan Fedorov’s traditions were continued by the print-shops of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra (in the 17th and 18th centuries the largest in the Ukraine); by the shops of the Kievites Timophei Verbitsky and Spiridon Sobol; the Ivivites Mikhailo Slyozka and Arsenti Zheliborsky, as well as the mobile and monastery printing-works. A number of books issued by the print-shops were found by the museum’s archeographic expeditions in villages and towns of the western regions of the Ukraine. Some of them have ornamental adornments after genuine Fedorov’s plates.

Bookprinting founded by Ivan Fedorov in the Ukraine continued to expand, strengthen and serve the cause of education and culture, gradually growing a mighty force of social progress. The life and activities of the first printer is a living example of unity of the Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian cultures, a bright page of home history. The historical-literary and artistic importance of Ivan Fedorov’s publications got out far beyond national borders and became the property of world culture.


The following sections of the expositian show how the progressive book, periodicals, editions of works by the classics of Marxism-Leninism became an effective weapon in the working people’s secular struggle that led to the victory of the Great October and the building of socialism in this country.

This part of the exposition opens with the materials relating about the scientific study of Fedorov’s heritage. It began with the scientific investigation and registration of Fedorov’s books in reference books and catalogues. An interest for the activities of Ivan Fedorov in Russia and the Ukraine particularly increased by the end of the 18th — the beginning of the 19th centuries. Thus in 1813 the scholar K. Kalaidovich, associated with the Kiev Academy, among a series of works devoted to the initial period of Slavic bookprinting published the afterword to the Lviv Apostle of 1574. In 1817 the Ukrainian scholar M. Grinievetsky identified the printer’s tombstone. Soon scientific works by V. Sopikov, D. Zubritsky, V. Undolsky and many other researchers appear commenting on the first printed editions. Those works were the first attempts to elucidate some facts of the first printer’s biography, to make a study of his heritage.


A monument to Ivan Fedorov in Moscow


At the end of the last century in Moscow a contest for the best design of a monument to Ivan Fedorov and collection of funds for its erection were announced. It took them forty years to collect 29 thousand roubles and erect a modest monument in memory of the great man of national culture. The design was offered by a Russian sculptor S. Volnukhin. The inauguration of the monument took place in September 1909. It is interesting to note that revolutionary-minded Moscow printing workers led by the “Trade society of printing workers named after the first printer Ivan Fedorov”, with Bolshevik I. E. Lyubimov at the head, timed their revolutionary action to the event. They proclaimed their faithfulness to the great ideas of socialism and revolution, denounced the tsarist autocracy, told of hard working and living conditions of printers. In the magazine (see in display) Rus-ski Pechatnik (The Russian Printer) I. E. Lyubimov wrote: “...to us, printers, Ivan Fedorov is closer than whomsoever. We, his descendents. are successors of the cause to the development of which Ivan Fedorov served selflessly. The very life of Ivan Fedorov may serve as a prototype of the life of workers, halfstarved and wandering in search of a job”. Soon after it the tsarist censorship banned the revolutionary magazine. But no repressions could stop the growing current of. progressive literature and illegal editions, the current that washed away all obstacles on the way of the revolutionary thought.


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