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Aivazovskiy Ivan (1817-1900) - brief biography

Ivan Aivazovskiy (1817-1900), also known as Haivazovskiy [Hajvazovskij], is the most interesting phenomenon of 19th century art. He gained international fame at the age of 25, was elected a member to five European Academies and was awarded the medal of the French Legion of Honor. Delacroix referred to him in reverence and Turner called him a genius.

Aivazovskiy's name is intricately bound with the sea. In his best seascapes (and in a legacy of about 6000, there are some works which condescend to his artistic ability and others which merit singular artistic attention) he has revealed his inner self through the spirit of the times, his ideals of humanism, and the love of freedom. The artist lived by those ideals; the love that he had towards the oppressed, the help he offered and the work that he did for the public good make him an exceptional individual and a true son of his times.

Aivazovskiy was born to an Armenian family in the city of Theodosia in the Crimea.

At the age of twenty he graduates from the Art Academy of St. Petersburg with a gold medal. He goes to Italy to continue his studies and returns as an internationally acclaimed seascape painter. Neither financial security nor life in Palace interests him. He returns to his native land, builds a workplace on the seashore and, until the last days of his life, dedicates himself to the work that he loves. He participates in exhibitions all over the world. He gets recognition and glory as a representative of Russian art greatly helps in familiarizing it.

In Aivazovskiy's creative work one finds such aspects of Armenian culture and national temperament that it becomes impossible to separate his art from his native people. It is this characteristic that gives Aivazovskiy's creativity its unique quality.

Even in the early years, Aivazovskiy had a vivid and emotional understanding of reality. He always remained a romantic at heart even through his art could never separate itself from his academic background. The Artist's expressive language was in complete harmony with the techniques that he used. As a young boy Aivazovskiy had known the sea, had loved it passionately and had known the secrets of its movements. It was this memory, together with his imagination, that was responsible for his best works. Rather than merely "reproduce" the sea, Aivazovskiy tells us its fables and thus makes a symbolic statement.

Aivazovskiy made his mark in contemporary art through his own rules and his own world view; he was true both to his academic background and his romantic inclinations.

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.

To eliminate "The Armenian Question", Sultan Abdul Hamid, in 1895, ordered a series of massacres which claimed the life of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. Numerous Armenian cultural monuments were burned or destroyed. This tragic reality shocked the artist: "My heart is full of grief for our ill-fated people; for this tragic and unprecedented massacre", he wrote to the Armenian Catholicos Khrimian. He threw into the sea the medal that the Sultan had given him years before. He painted and exhibited canvases depicting the massacre. It was with pain and grief that he painted his last canvas "The Explosion of the Turkish Ship", which he could not finish. The date was May 2nd, 1900.

Aivazovskiy's house in Theodosia became a place for artistic pilgrimage. Armenian artists were invited there and actors and musicians performed there. It was there that artists like Bashinjagyan, Sureniants, Makhokhian and Shabanian started their creative life. Aivazovskiy's dream was to create a union of Armenian artists from all over the world.

During his long period of creative life, and especially after 1868, Aivazovskiy executed tens of canvases with Armenian themes. His landscapes depicting life in Tbilisi, Lake Sevan and Mount Ararat popularized the genre in Armenian art. He also had a series of works with themes from he bible and from ancient Armenian history. Two of his works, which were exhibited in the Church in Theodosia and have inspired patriotism ever since, are reproduced here for the first time.

According to his wishes, Aivazovskiy was buried in the Armenian Church of St. Sarkis in Theodosia. His tombstone has a quotation from historian Khorenatsi's "History of Armenians" - "Born a mortal, he left immortal memories". The "memories" condense in them the spirit of the times and the most precious spirit of all time - that of Humanism.

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovskiy was one of the most popular artists of his times.

Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Capture of the Turkish military transport 'Messina' by the steamer 'Russia' on the Black Sea on the 13th December of the 1877 year' 1877
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Battle in the Hiosskiy Strait on the 24th June of the 1770 year' 1848
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Battle of Steamer 'Vesta' with the Turkish Ironclad 'Fehti-Bulend' on the Black Sea on the 11th July of the 1877 year' 1877
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Brig Mercury Being Attacked by Two Turkish Ships' 1892
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Brig Mercury is Meeting the Russian Squadron after Victory over Two Turkish Ships' 1842
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Chernomorskiy Fleet in Feodosiya' 1839
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Chesmenskiy Battle on the 25-26th June of the 1770 year' 1848
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Sea Battle near Navarino on the 2nd October of the 1827' 1846
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Landing Party of N.N.Raevskiy near Subashi' 1839
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Parade of the Chernomorskiy Fleet in 1849'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Russian Squadron on the Sevastopolskiy Raid' 1846
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Sea Battle near Vyborg on the 29th June of the 1790 year' 1846
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Sinopskiy Battle (Day Variant)' 1853
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Sinopskiy Battle on the 18th November of the 1853 year (Night after Battle)' 1853
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Walking on Waters'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Walking on Waters'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'A Moonlit View of the Bosphorus', 1884
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Arrival of Peter the First to Neva'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Bracing the Waves', 1890
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Ñarts in Steppe'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Chumaks During the Rest', 1885
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Farewell', 1869
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Figures in a Coastal Landscape at Sunset'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Fishermen on the Shore'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Fishing Boats in a Harbor', 1854
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Kerch', 1839
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Landscape with Windmills', 1860
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Maria in a Storm'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Moonlit Seascape with Shipwreck'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Nocturnal Voyage'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Peter', 1846
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Rainbow'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Ship at Sea'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Storm', 1872
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Storm', 1886
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Storm on Sea'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Survivors', 1844
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Caucasus', 1868
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Harbor at Odessa on the Black Sea', 1852
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Ninth Wave'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Rescue'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'The Shipwreck', 1871
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'View of the Ayu Dag. Crimea'
Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'View of the Big Cascade in Petergof'

Order the copy of any particular painting on this page accomplished by one of the professional Russian painters presented in our gallery.

Tyranov: 'Portrait Ivan Aivazovskiy'

Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Sailing Vessel'

Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Seascape'

Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Windmill at the Seashore' Ivan Aivazovskiy: 'Georgiyevskiy Monastry. Cape Fiolent'

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