Ivan Aivazovsky Has Always Been a True Armenian

Ivan Aivazovsky Has Always Been a True ArmenianHovhannes 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.”




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  • […] calm; average wind speed < 1 km/h; mirror-like sea. Venice, 1874. by Aivazovsky 1, light air; < 1 – 5 km/h (1 – 3 mph); no foam crests, light ripples. A sailing ship near […]

  • […] of this type. Here on Art-A-Tsolum, we have a small collection of miniatures, photographs, and paintings on Armenian themes. We mostly publish similar articles in the Culture section. You could also use […]

  • Aivaz’s Home Was the Angry Oceans
    Aivazian dedicated his soulful brushes,
    to diving deep into the angry seas . . . oceans
    With their raging waves to
    Save Armenians’ Genocided Skulls.
    At dawn . . . at dusk and on the moonless nights
    He stroked his brush with hearty natural touchable colors,
    Mixing hearty-red with fiery orange,
    Many true soulful royal blues, whites, yellows and dancing greens,
    To feel no darkness and never gloominess around.
    He insisted on living in the waves,
    Seldom wishing to belong to earthy sand.

    Sylva Portoian, MD
    From my Historical Poetry Book “Gomidas~Komiras, My Musical Saint” p.312
    Available in Komitas Museum, Yerevan

    Ivan Aivazovsky: Hovhannes Aivazian (1817–1900) was an Armenian-Russian
    world-renowned painter, living and working in Crimea, most famous for
    his seascapes, which constitute more than half of his paintings.

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