Ivan Kovalenko is often referred to as an “offshoot of Repin’s school”. Of course, as a graduate of the Lvov Art Institute, he could not have studied under Ilya Repin himself and instead absorbed the creative methods, manner and style of Repin’s pupils – the well-known Ukrainian painters Nikolay Bendrik and Vasily Lyubchik. Having started as an impressionist, towards the end of his life Kovalenko became a painter of the “large scale, academic style”, trying to revive that art form in a series of grand canvases dedicated to Russian history, beginning from ancient times. He abandoned plein air and lush landscapes for the comfort of the studio and, together with his son Dmitry, also a painter and a talented illustrator, Kovalenko spent hours in the archives, gathering materials for their epic pieces. In a number of minutely detailed studies for the series, he entered into every particular detail of Boyar costumes or the military uniforms of the imperial army. In his long life Kovalenko held twenty five solo exhibitions, some of them abroad – in France, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. Today the bulk of his artwork is divided between museums in Ukraine, Crimea and private collections.