Sun, Moon, Sea: аnimated Paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky

ARTHIVE made its present to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Ivan Aivazovsky, one of the world`s greatest marine artists. Get mesmerized by 10 animated paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky, the artist who seized the Sun, the Moon and surely the Sea!

A painter of seascapes, Ivan Aivazovsky (1817 — 1900) is the most famous Russian artist. During his life, he had the Russian Tsar, the Turkish Sultan, the Pope and the British genius William Turner among his admirers. In Russia, his exhibitions still gather the queues.

12 fascinating facts about artist

1Aivazovsky 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.

The road from Mljet to Gudauri, 1868

2Aivazovsky 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.

View Of Venice. San Giorgio Maggiore, 1851

3Aivazovsky`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.

4And 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.

Chaos: Creation of the World, 1841

5Emperor 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.

The sunrise in Feodosiya, 1855

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.

The black sea fleet in Feodosiya, 1890

6Aivazovsky 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.

7During 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.

8Aivazovsky is a representative of the Romantic school of painting. This fact, together with the artist`s nature explain best why most of his paintings feature the storms, as the disasters and strong emotions fascinated Aivazovsky immensly. But a calm sea is also great in his paintings. Just look how much passion is in the sky over the tranquil sea.

Shipwreck, 1876

9Armenian by nationality, Aivazovsky had a rough spirit. He considered Constantinople to be the most beautiful city in the world. Turkish sultans Abdul-Majid I and Abdul Hamid II collected paintings by Aivazovsky, having awarded him with numerous medals. But after the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottomans in the 1890-ies, Aivazovsky changed his attitude to the patrons. As soon as he returned home from another overseas trip, he did not even take off his clothes. Instead of having rest after the journey he pulled out his shining medals, pinned them the collar of his dog and marched this way through the city of Feodosia. This strange procession was joined by almost the entire city. Having approached the sea, Aivazovsky got into into the boat, sailed away at a sufficient distance from the shore, raised the shining medals over his head and threw them into the sea.

10Aivazovsky held the post of Chief artist of the Naval staff. He painted the views of the port cities, participated in the naval campaigns of the Russian Empire — in short, making artistic PR of the Russian Navy. The sailors adored the artist as well. The whole fleet would begin firing cannons without any military need just to let Aivazovsky observe how the smoke was dissipating in the fog so that the artist could paint it realistically in his works-to-be.

When Aivazovsky was celebrating the 80th anniversary, the best ships of the Russian Navy arrived to Feodosiya to honor the artist.

Chesme battle on June 25 26, 1770
Ivan Aivazovsky

11Where did Aivazovsky come from? He grew up in a poor family of the Armenian merchant. His early career could be a plot for a good movie. The boy named Ovannes (that was the artist`s real name; later on he would call himself Ivan, in the Russian way) loved to draw silhouettes of the ships and figures of the sailors. There was neither paper, no pencils at home, therefore Ovannes painted with charcoal on the fences and the whitewashed walls. Aivazovsky was caught in this «criminal» act by the architect and the mayor of Feodosia. They gave the talented boy his first albums and paints, sending him to study later on.

12How did Aivazovsky die? If you have read this article until the end, then you can guess. Of course, it happened by his easel when the artist was completing another painting. He was nearly 83 years old. And after his death his fame has not waned. So, in 2017, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Aivazovsky, Russia, Ukraine and Armenia (three countries that consider him to be their son) issued the coins with the portraits of Aivazovsky and details of his paintings.

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