Ivan AIVAZOVSKY

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235px-Aivazovsky_-_Self-portrait_1874Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817 – 1900) was a Russian Romantic painter.

He is considered one of the greatest marine artists in history. Baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian, Aivazovsky was born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia and was mostly based in his native Crimea.

Following his education at the Imperial Academy of Arts, Aivazovsky traveled to Europe and lived briefly in Italy in the early 1840s. He then returned to Russia and was appointed the main painter of the Russian Navy. Aivazovsky had close ties with the military and political elite of the Russian Empire and often attended military maneuvers. He was sponsored by the imperial family and was well-regarded during his lifetime. The winged word “worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush”, popularized by Anton Chekhov, was used in Russia for “describing something ineffably lovely.”

One of the most prominent Russian artists of his time, Aivazovsky was also popular outside Russia. He held numerous solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. During his almost sixty-year career, he created around 6,000 paintings, making him one of the most prolific artists of his time. The vast majority of his works are seascapes, but he often depicted battle scenes, Armenian themes, and portraiture. Most of Aivazovsky’s works are kept in Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian museums as well as private collections.

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During his sixty-year career, Aivazovsky produced around 6,000 paintings "of very different value [...] there are masterpieces and there are very timid works". The vast majority of his works depict the sea. He rarely drew dry-landscapes and created only a handful of portraits. Aivazovsky "never painted his pictures from nature, always from memory, and far away from the seaboard." "His artistic memory was legendary. He was able to reproduce what he had seen only for a very short time, without even drawing preliminary sketches." His "truth to nature amazed his contemporaries, particularly his ability to convey the effect of moving water and of reflected sun and moonlight.