Ivan Aivazovsky (Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky) 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 60-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.
12 fascinating facts about artist
Aivazovsky was an avid painter. He is an author of 6 000 paintings. During his lifetime, the artist had 120 personal exhibitions in Russia and abroad. He was only 26 years old when his paintings were shown at the Louvre.
Aivazovsky continues to amaze the audience with the realistic waves and lunar paths. Though he did not like to work in plein air. The artist considered it impossible to portray from life the movement of the elements, the breath of the sea, the blaze of lightnings. Aivazovsky painted the seascapes in his studio relying on the memory and imagination.
Aivazovsky`s popularity at home was unprecedented. In 1850, Nicholas I, the Emperor of Russia, acquired ‘The Ninth Wave’ painted by the 33-year-old artist. During the boat journey with the artist, standing on the deck, the Emperor said, «Aivazovsky! I’m the king of the earth, and you are the king of the sea!» Nicholas I used to ask the people close to him whether they were familiar with the works of Aivazovsky and whether they had any of them. Those wishing to please the Tsar hurried away to buy pieces by Aivazovsky for their mansions.
And this seascape entitled «Chaos: Creation of the World» was painted in 1841. At that time, Aivazovsky lived in Italy (Russian artists had a habit to travel to Italy in search of inspiration and beautiful views then). The rumors of the Russian artist who had completed an incredible picture with a scene of the birth of the world from chaos reached Pope Gregory XVI. The artist was invited to the Vatican. The Pope saw the canvas and was anxious to buy it. The artist denied the fee and passed the painting to the Pope as a gift. In return, Pope Gregory XVI honoured Ivan Aivazovsky with the Gold Medal.
Emperor Nicholas I was terribly upset when at the height of his fame, Aivazosky decided to leave St. Petersburg for his tiny home town of Feodosia on the Black sea, Crimea. But the artist was adamant, so he left and lived in the province until the end of his days. He always considered Feodosia being his home despite he visited Berlin, Vienna, Trieste, Dresden, Rome, Istanbul and many other cities and countries and could afford to live anywhere. Aivazovsky promoted the welfare of his homeland. His influence on Feodosia’s life was huge. The painter established an art school, a library, a fountain, a concert hall and a picture gallery in Feodosia.
Aivazovsky was an inquisitive person. For instance, he was anxious to know how the Niagara Fall looked like and what the difference between the sea waves and the ocean waves was. In 1892, he was 75 when he came to the USA. His plan was to see the Niagara Falls, to visit New York and Washington, and to showcase his pictures at the World Expo. All done! He even took his wife Anne across the ocean, making it a romantic cruise on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of their wedding. But the Niagara Fall was surely painted by memory and from his sketches when Aivazovsky was back home, in his studio.
During his sea journeys, Aivazovsky got into the storms repeatedly. Once the ship with Aivazovsky on board got caught in such a severe storm, that the European newspapers were quick to write about the shipwreck and the death of all the passengers, including the artist Ivan Aivazovsky. They were wrong! And the artist managed to memorize the views, which he would later use in many of his paintings.