Ivan Aivazovsky (July 29, 1817 – May 5, 1900) was a Russian world-renowned painter of Armenian descent living and working in Crimea, most famous for his seascapes, which constitute more than half of his paintings. Aivazovsky is widely considered as one of the greatest seascape painters of all times.
van Aivazovsky has had several gallery and museum exhibitions, including at the The State Russian Museum and at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Numerous works by the artist have been sold at auction, including 'American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar' sold at Christie's King Street in 2007 for $5,342,252.
The concept of light is all important to Aivazovskiy. The perceptive viewer will observe that while painting the waves, clouds or sky space, the artist's emphasis is on the light. In Aivazovskiy's art light is the eternal symbol for life, hope and faith. This is light the creator, the concept of which has its roots deep down in Armenian culture and its continuity in the next generation of Armenian artists.
Due to his long life in art, Aivazovsky became the most prolific Russian painter of his days. He left over 6,000 works at his death in 1900. With funds earned during his successful career as an artist, he opened an art school and gallery in his home town of Feodosiya.
From 1846 to 1848 [Aivazovsky] painted several canvases with naval warfare as the subject; the pictures portrayed historical battles of the Russian Fleet The Battle of Chesme (1848), The Battle in the Chios Channel (1848), Meeting of the Brig Mercury with the Russian Squadron... (1848).Towards the 1850s the romantic features in Aivazovsky’s work became increasingly pronounced. This can be seen quite clearly in one of his best and most famous paintings The Tenth Wave (1850) and also in Moonlit Night (1849), The Sea. Koktebel. (1853), Storm (1854) and others.
Aivazovsky's success was well earned, for no other artist managed to capture with such brilliance, conviction and apparent ease what was the most difficult of subjects for the painter, that of the changing moods of the sea. He was a professional marine painter who spent much time by the sea and loved it sincerely. When Aivazovsky began his career, Russian art was still dominated by Romanticism and it was the romantic mood which set the terms for Russian landscape painting in the second half of the nineteenth century. It is scarcely surprising then to discover romantic elements both in Aivazovsky's early works, and in the majority of his later ones.
Aivazovsky was admired throughout Europe, and in 1842 J.M W. Turner (1775-1851) was so struck by Aivazovsky's picture The Pay of Naples on a Moonlit Night that he dedicated a rhymed eulogy in Italian to Aivazovsky […] Aivazovsky enjoyed equal successs when he brought his pictures to paris in 1842 […] The Council of Paris Academy awarded him first their gold medal, then, in 1857, the Legion of Honour, which was an order rarely conferred on foreigners.
The Romantic seascape painters J.M. W. Turner and Ivan Aivazovsky created some of the most lasting impressions of the sublime and stormy seas that are firmly imprinted on the popular mind. […] Aivazovsky left several thousand turbulent canvases in which he increasingly eliminated human figures and historical background to focus on such essential elements as light, sea. and sky. His grandiose Ninth Wave (1850) is an ode to human daring in the face of the elements.
Following the dictates of his heart Aivazovsky created his own artistic language which was light and pure, as if the sea itself spoke it. This language gradually changed, the palette of the painter became lighter, and he instinctively approached “plein air” painting. However, his perception of the world never changed. He did not set new artistic tasks for himself; he did not take a pattern by his contemporaries and he had no interest in new developments. He for ever remained devoted to his imaginative visions and youthful fervour or, to be more exact, to the artistic lessons of the sea which he had already been given in childhood.
In the course of his work, Aivazovsky evolved his own method of depicting the motion of the sea – from memory, without preliminary sketches, limiting himself to rough pencil outlines. Aivazovsky’s phenomenal memory and romantic imagination allowed him to do all this with incomparable brilliance. The development of this new method reflected the spirit of the age, when the ever-increasing romantic tendencies put an artist's imagination to the front.
Most of all Aivazovsky succeeded with his seascapes. From 1844 he was even an artist of the navy headquarters. Among his famous paintings there are the canvasses The Tenth Wave and Black Sea. However, Aivazovsky painted on other themes as well. Among his other series of paintings there were the Caucasian and Ukrainian landscapes, Armenian history, and the Crimean war.