Ivan Aivazovsky's success was well-earned, for no other artist managed to capture with such brilliance, conviction and apparent ease that most difficult of subjects for the painter - the changing moods of the sea. Aivazovsky was not just a professional marine painter. He knew the sea and loved it sincerely. Although he turned occasionally to other art forms such as landscape and portraiture, these were only brief departures from his chosen genre to which he remained faithful all his life.
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. One reflection of this is his choice of subjects again and again we find him depicting shipwrecks, raging sea battles and storms.
Aivazovsky continued in the tradition of the great Russian landscape painters of the early nineteenth century without recourse to imitation. He created a new tradition, a new school of painting, thus making his mark on the marine painting of his own and subsequent generations.
Apart from his work as an artist, Aivazovsky was a tireless and versatile public figure: he took an eager interest in world events and sympathized deeply with small nations struggling for their independence. At the same time he worked selflessly for the good of his native town Feodosiya and did much to assist young artists.
The Caucasus, 1817
Sea view, 1867
Rescue at Sea, 1872
Moonrise in Feodosia, 1892
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Napoleon on St Helena, 1897
His technique and imagination in depicting the shimmering play of light on the waves and seafoam is especially admired, and gives his seascapes a romantic yet realistic quality that echoes the work of English watercolorist J. M. W. Turner and Russian painter Sylvester Shchedrin. Especially effective is his ability to depict diffuse sunlight and moonlight, sometimes coming from behind clouds, sometimes coming through a fog, with almost transparent layers of paint. A series of paintings of naval battles painted in the 1840s brought his dramatic skills to the fore, with the flames of burning ships reflected in water and clouds. He also painted landscapes, including scenes of peasant life in Ukraine and city life in İstanbul. Some critics have called his paintings from İstanbul Orientalist, and others feel the hundreds of seascapes can be repetitive and melodramatic.
He became the most prolific Russian painter of his time. Early in his career, he was elected a member of five Academies of Fine Arts, including those of St. Petersburg (his Alma Mater). Rome, Florence, Stuttgart and Amsterdam. He was an Academician at 27, and Professor of Marine Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, at the age of 30.
His works were highly appreciated by J. M. W. Turner, a leading English landscape and marine painter, when they met in Rome, in 1842. The art of the young marine painter Aivazovsky inspired Turner to devote a poem to him.
American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar, 1873
Aivazovsky left over 6,000 works at his death in 1900. The funds earned during his successful career as an artist enabled him to open an art school and gallery in his hometown of Feodosiya. As of 2006, Aivazovsky's works have been auctioned for as much as $3,200,000, and his international reputation continues to grow.
On June 14, 2007 his painting "American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar" sold for 2,710,000 pounds, "the highest price paid at auction for Aivazovsky". He is also said to be the most forged of all Russian painters.
View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus, 1856
On April, 2012, Ivan Aivazovsky’s canvas View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus was sold at Sotheby’s auction in London for a record $5.2 million (3.2 million pounds)
The Bay of Naples, 1845
The Bay of Naples on misty morning 1874
The Bay of Naples in the morning 1877
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The leading artists of the day recognized Aivazovsky's mastery and talent. During a trip to Italy in 1842 the famous English marine painter, Joseph Mallord William Turner was so struck by the picture The Bay of Naples on a Moonlit Night that he dedicated a rhymed eulogy in Italian to Aivazovsky:
Of a mighty king!
I see the moon, all gold and silver.
Forgive me if I err, great artist,
Reflected in the sea below...
Your picture has entranced me so,
And on the surface of the sea
Reality and art are one,
There plays a breeze which leaves a trail
And I am all amazement.
Of trembling ripples, like a shower
So noble, powerful is the art
Of fiery sparks or else the gleaming headdress
That only genius could inspire!
1817 17 July (29) Ivan Aivazovsky was born in Feodosia in the family of a merchant of Armenian origin Konstantin Grigorievicz Aivazovsky, moved in the beginning XIX of century from Galitziya in Crimea.
Studies in Feodosia in school of church arrival. The interest of Aivazovsky involves in drawing attention of the chief of Feodosia city A. I. Kaznacheev.
1830 Has entered the Simpheropol gymnasium.
1833 22 July - is enlisted in the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Is engaged in a landscape class of the professor M. N. Vorobyov.
1834 As the assistant is attached to French artist F. Tanner.
1835 The silver medal of 2 advantage for a picture "an Etude of air above the sea" is awarded. Gets acquainted with M.I. Glinka, V.G. Belinskiy, I.A. Krilov.
1836 The gold medal of 2 advantage is awarded. Gets acquainted from A.S. Pushkin.
1837 The gold medal of 1-st advantage "for excellent successes in painting sea kinds" is awarded.
1838 1838 – 1840. For outstanding successes in painting is sent on business by the Petersburg Academy of applied arts for two years to Crimea for independent job.
1839 Takes part in battle operations under a management N.N. Raevskiy at the Caucasian coast. During navigation by the battle ships of the Black Sea fleet gets acquainted with the admirals M.P. Lazarev, P.S. Nahimov, V.A. Kornilov. For pictures written in Crimea, "is issued from Academy and is awarded with a rank of the artist".
1840 Leaves for six years abroad as the pensioner of Academy of applied arts "for improvement in painting". In the autumn in Venice gets acquainted with N.V.Gogol.
1841 1841 – 1844. Travels on Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, England, Holland. Becomes the member of Amsterdam academy. The pictures of Aivazovsky are on display at exhibitions in the largest cities of Europe.
1842 Meeting with famous English marine artist J.W.M. Turner.
1843 Is awarded with a gold medal of the French Academy of applied arts.
1844 Comes back in Russia. Is ranked as the Main Sea staff. The rank of the academician of the Petersburg Academy of applied arts is awarded.
1845 Is sent in navigation in Konstantinopol and on the Greek archipelago. After returning from navigation begins construction of a house and workshop in Feodosia.
1846 May - Has noted the first decade of the creativity by the device of a display of paintings in Feodosia.
1847 The rank of the professor of the Petersburg Academy of applied arts is awarded.
1848 The first display of paintings in Moscow. Marries on J.I. Grevs, daughter of the Petersburg doctor. With the young wife moves to live in Feodosia.
1850 Writes a picture The Ninth Wave, which exhibits at first in Academy of applied arts in St. Petersburg, the next year - in Moscow.
1852 The second exhibition in Moscow.
1853 March 5 - Is elected by the valid member of Russian Geographical society.
1854 June - Exhibition of battle pictures in besieged Sevastopol.
1857 Display of paintings in Paris, for which the award Honourable legion is awarded to him.
1862 Writes two variants of a picture "the World flood". During life repeatedly comes back to this plot [The World flood (1864) and others].
1865 In connection with opening in Feodosia the first School of Arts, is enlisted on a service in the Petersburg Academy of applied arts.
1868 Writes a cycle of pictures on a theme of struggle of Greece with Turkey.
1868 - 1869. Trip on Caucasus and Transcaucasia, makes trip on opening of the Suez channel. Begins efforts about a lining in Feodosia of the railway.
1869 Trip to Egypt. Is invited to celebrating of opening of the Suez channel.
1871 Has constructed in Feodosiya a building Historical museum.
1872 Has visited Nice and Florence with an exhibition of the pictures.
1873 Picture Rainbow.
1874 By the order of the sultan Abdul-Azis writes about 30 pictures for an ornament palas Dolma-Bahche in Konstsntinopol.
1876 Is elected by the member of the Florentine academy of applied arts. Has written an auto portrait for Gallery Uffitsi.
1877 Terminates a marriage with J.I. Aivazovskaya.
1879 Travel to Genoa for the tax of materials connected to opening of America by Kolumb.
1880 Has based in Feodosiya Picture gallery. Is elected by the honourable citizen of Feodosia.
1881 Picture The Black Sea.
1882 Marries on A.N. Sarkizova, widow of the businessman.
1884 Travel on Volga.
1887 The fiftieth anniversary of creative activity, exhibition in St. Petersburg.
1892 Trip to America.
1898 Picture Among waves.
1900 April 19 (May 2) Aivazovsky has died in Feodosia. Is buried near to an ancient Armenian temple.