Count Jacob de Balmaine

Born: 1813, Linovitsa (Poltava Province)
Died: 1845, Shuani Heights (Chechnya)

Amateur draughtsman, painter, illustrator, writer. Descended from the Ramsays of Balmain in Kincardineshire in Scotland, who followed King James II into exile in France (1689). Great-grandson of Count Adéodate Charles Adrian Ramsay de Balmaine, who joined the Russian army (1736) and was killed fighting the Swedes at the Battle of Villmanstrand (1741). Grandson of Count Anton de Balmaine (1741–1790), who distinguished himself in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–74). Born to Count Peter de Balmaine and Sofia Bashilova at his mother’s estate of Linovitsa in the Ukraine (1813). Educated at home by Swiss and German tutors and took drawing lessons from Carl Wilhelm von Rabus (1820s). Studied at the Nizhyn Lyceum (1830–32). Fell in love with his sixteen-year-old cousin Sofia Vishnevskaya (1831), who was given instead in marriage to Nikolai Pisarev (1835), head of the secret chancellery of Governor General Dmitry Bibikov. Served in the Belgorod Uhlan Regiment in Chuhuiv (1832–37), where he wrote A Collection of Tales, Each More Stupid Than the Other, published posthumously by Andrei Kuzmenko in Kharkiv (1988). Transferred to the Akhtyrka Hussar Regiment (1837) and appointed adjutant to Lieutenant General Shabelsky in Krasnystaw in Poland (1838), where he started to translate Adam Mickiewicz’s banned Ksi?gi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego into Russian (1838–39) and drew genre scenes of everyday army life, published posthumously by Karl Fischer in Moscow as the Gogol’s Time album (1909). Returned to the Ukraine with his regiment and deployed in the town of Uman (1839). Published works in Otechestvennye zapiski in St Petersburg (1841, 1843), where he met Taras Shevchenko (1841). Illustrated Haidamaky and Hamalia for Taras Shevchenko’s Kobzar poetry collection (1844). Transferred to Dagestan (1844), where he drew caricatures and served as adjutant to General Alexander von Lüders (1844–45). Killed near the village of Shuani during Count Mikhail Vorontsov’s unsuccessful attack on Shamil’s capital of Dargo (1845).

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