Aivazovskii, Ivan

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aivazovskii, Ivan Konstantinovich


(also I. K. Gaivazovskii). Born July 17 (29), 1817, in Feodosiia; died there on Apr. 19 (May 2), 1900. Russian painter, master of seascapes.

The son of an Armenian petty trader, Aivazovskii studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1833 to 1837 with M. N. Vorob’ev and the French seascape artist F. Tanner. An academician at the Academy of Arts from 1845, a professor from 1847, and an honorary member from 1887, he was also a member of many European academies. Traveling widely, he lived in Feodosiia from 1845. By the 1840’s, Aivazovskii earned worldwide fame with the heightened emotions of his paintings, evincing pathos and heroism, and with the precision and quickness of his brush. Aivazovskii’s art is distinctive in its romantic depiction of the immense and turbulent power of the sea, of fiery sunsets, of moonlight sparkling on the waves, and of courageous people struggling against the sea (The Ninth Wave, 1850, Russian Museum, Leningrad). An eyewitness of the Black Sea Fleet military maneuvers, Aivazovskii dedicated many paintings to the great exploits of Russian sailors. These include The Battle of Çeşme and The Battle of Navarino, both done in 1848 and now hanging in the Aivazovskii Feodosiia Picture Gallery. The heightened intensity of Aivazovskii’s palette was gradually superseded by a striving for unity of tone. In his best later works, such as The Black Sea (1881, Tret’iakov Gallery), which are restrained in color, Aivazovskii uses fine gradations of chiaroscuro for a more precise and realistic rendering of sea expanses and the movement of water and light. The creator of about 6,000 paintings, unequal in artistic quality, he also did drawings and watercolors.


Barsamov, N. S. I. K. Aivazovskii. Moscow, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.