Hovhannes Aivazian, in spite of having adopted the name Ivan Aivazovsky, remained a true Armenian to the core.
Ivan Aivazovsky was one of the greatest masters of the marine art. Shortly before passing away, Aivazovsky himself said that he had painted about 6 thousand paintings. However, art critics would roughly estimate that there are about 15 thousand of his paintings in museums around the world.
That’s not because the marine artist made an erroneous estimation but because his works would be heavily copied and counterfeited. Even large art exhibitions sometimes feature familiar marine landscapes under dubious authorship.
Aivazovsky has been painting with oil on canvas right away without preparation. In fact, his contemporaries claimed that he was able to turn white paper into a landscape or a portrait in mere three hours. The master has been working by memory, considering the ability to paint without samples a key skill of a painter. Aivazovsky frequently attended art exhibitions with just a few of his paintings and created some more on site.
Aivazovsky’s works were favored by the Turkish sultan who once invited him to Istanbul where the master would create 20 paintings with landscapes of the city and the sea. The sultan bought the paintings and awarded the marine artist with state decorations.
Usually, those paintings of Aivazovsky that were dedicated to storms and shipwrecks don’t have a frightening character. But those dedicated to the massacres of Armenians truly arouse fear. He devoted many of his works to those events, and they are probably the only paintings of his that arouse sorrow. He featured all of those works at exhibitions to draw attention to the alarming events.
The anger and sorrow of the artists grew so severe that he one day threw the awards of the Turkish sultan into the sea. He would tell the Turkish consul: “He may throw my paintings into the sea as well, I do not care.”