Aivazovsky Ivan

Ship at anchor 61x48,5 cm, oil on canvas, 1895
About work

The canvas “Ship at Anchor” represented in the collection belongs to the late period of creative work of I. Aivazovsky. Night seascapes are the topic piercing all the painter’s artworks. He was able with insubstantial accuracy to reproduce the moonlight effects, the moon itself surrounded by light transparent clouds or peeping out of black clouds torn by the wind. The images of night nature reproduced by I. Aivazovsky belong to the most poetic nature representations in fine arts. The artist found precise means to reproduce the greatness, power and beauty of night sea elements. Similar to the represented canvas in other pictures of I. Aivazovsky great place in composition always belongs to the sky that he could reproduce with the same perfection as he depicted the sea elements. Air ocean, the movement of air, variety of clouds’ forms, their violent race in night time or before the sunset sometimes themselves create emotional content of his pictures. The wave has just broken against the sandy shore. Raging water masses covered with foam swiftly run into the sea taking away the tufts of mud, the sand and pebbles and the next wave is rising towards them. To make the impression of growing movement more intense I. Aivazovsky takes a very low horizon. Far from the see on the raid there is a ship with stricken sails put at anchor. The moonlight covered the night outlines of the ship with its calmness. Such plot is typical for the late cycle of the painter’s pictures in 1880s, where he was devoured by the idea of creating an artificial image of sea elements. All these canvases virtually are the variants of the same plot differing only by details. Such simple and at the same time expressive color palette, absence of any bright external effects, clear composition create deeply true reproduction of night sea surf.

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Aivazovsky Ivan Konstantinovich
(1817, Feodosia — 1900, Feodosia)

The name of Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky is among the most famous figures of Russian art and his works became a part of golden fund of Russian classic painting heritage. I. K. Aivazovsky was born in Armenian family of broken merchant. His passion for painting developed from the childhood. He was growing in Feodosia and the most bright impressions were connected with the sea, and may be due to this fact he devoted all his works to sea reproduction. In 1833 I. Aivazovsky entered St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts were he was an apprentice of landscape painter M. N. Vorobiev. Decisive role in artistic formation of the future painter belonged to arrival of famous French marine painter F. Tanner to St. Petersburg. In 1836 F. Tanner took the young man as an assistant and taught him the methods of his technique. In autumn of the same year I. Aivazovsky already got a big golden medal and the title of the painter for the pictures exposed in academic exhibition. Giving up many material benefits promised by St. Petersburg in 1938 the painter returned to Feodosia where he found relative independence and freedom of artwork – the things that many Russian painters could only dream of. In Feodosia the artist founded his personal studio. Obtaining experience he mainly painted from nature and completed unfinished work in studio. In 1838 the painter followed the Great Russian naval commanders M. Lazarev, V. Kornilov and P. Nakhimov during the landing operation in Subashi that later was reflected in his famous picture “Landing in Subashi”. In 1840-44 I. Aivazovsky worked a lot in Italy. He also visited Germany, France, Spain, Holland and England. In 1844 the painter returned to St. Petersburg where he was granted a title of academician and artist of the Main Naval Staff that allowed him in the next year to visit Turkey, Greece, Asia Minor together with the expedition of Russian navigator and geographer F. Litke and accumulate new impressions. Later the painter visited Caucasus, Egypt, Nice, Florence, America. In 1846 the painter left for Feodosia where he built up a new studio and worked till the end of his life. His art and his glory gave him an opportunity to live in any cities of the world but he was devoted to his Feodosia. As a result of his artistic and public activity Feodosia took the way of economic and cultural development more quickly than other Crimean cities. During Crimean war in 1853-56 I. Aivazovsky visited occupied Sevastopol and painted a number of battle pieces needled by inspiration. These pictures truly and accurately depicted the victories of Russian fleet, legendary feats of Russian sailors and naval commanders. In such a way the painter stepped away from his previous decorative convention. It was during this period when his realistic skill strengthened.

1860-70s brought new trends to the art. Historism and later realism replaced romanticism with its esthetics of bright effects. During this period the art of I. Aivazovski was severely criticized but despite this fact the painter did not change his techniques and plots. In 1880-90s when ideas of romanticism sounded with new strength the art of I. Aivazovsky attracted attention again. The world eternity and greatness became the central subject of his seascapes.

In his early works I. Aivazovsky has already combined view accuracy with classic grounds construction and intense color palette effects needled with light. Lyric nature perception combined with filigree skills while reproducing the peculiarities of light quickly moved I. Aivazovsky to the group of the first class masters of realistic landscape. He developed many techniques for reproduction of nasty sea and stormy sky, bright sun set and soft shine of the moon rising above the sea. He studied the sea; he knew all its conditions and painted it easily. It was contributed by improvisation art technique adopted by him from his first steps in art. This technique in combination with a number of specific gift features that I. Aivazovsky was endowed with by nature allowed him to work with freedom and simplicity astonishing his contemporaries. He managed to achieve the level of skill and expressiveness of his works that made him first class painter of seascape painters. The sea was constantly attracting Aivazovsky. Its sound, fresh sea breeze raised in creative imagination the images full of fight spirit and courageous resistance. Marine elements evoked in the painter emotions that probably griped antic artists when they created and immortal image of victorious gods. In the process of work he was always in that happy creative mood that supported in him the confidence that his best picture is the one he is painting at the moment.

During his life there were over 120 exhibitions of his pictures arranged not only in Russia but also in many other countries of the world. In 1887 he was granted by the title of an honorable member of the Academy of Fine Arts. He was also a member of Stuttgart, Florentine and Roman academies. The legacy of I. Aivazovsky is the whole artistic encyclopedia of the sea and of his different moods. The artist painted over 6 thousand of pictures that were exhibited in almost all museums in Russia, in the biggest museums of Europe and the USA and in numerous private collections. Especially full legacy of the painter is represented in his native city in Feodosia gallery named after him. He was not only a painter but I. Aivazovsky is also well-known as a generous patron. The marine painter did a lot for improvement of the native city. He supported construction of port in Feodosia, archaeological museum, railroad and water-supply. Studio of I. Aivazovsky in Feodosia is also significant as a center of arts. It was visited by such famous Russian painters as L. Lagorio, A. Kuindzhi, K. Bogaievskiy, M. Alisov and many others.

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