Ivan Aivazovsky’s Marine Mastery at State Tretyakov Gallery
25.08.2016

BY NICHOLAS FORREST | AUGUST 24, 2016

Russia’s State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky 1817-1900 with a major monographic exhibition of the artist’s work. Born in the town of Feodosiya in Crimea, Aivazovsky, celebrated as one of the greatest marine painters and is credited with developing and popularizing the genre in mid-19th century Russia.

Throughout his long and prolific career, Aivazovsky produced approximately 6000 works and participated in more than 120 exhibitions around the world, including 60 solo presentations. The State Tretyakov Gallery’s exhibition showcases a carefully curated selection of the best examples of the artist’s famous seascapes, battle scenes, and graphics works.

The 120 paintings and 55 graphic works are displayed alongside items such as compasses, globes, telescopes, and models of ships within a thematic structure divided into the sections: Sea symphonies, Official artist of the Main Headquarters of the Russian Navy, Between Feodosia and Petersburg, The world was small to him, and Captivated by the mystery of the universe.

Although he experienced great fame during his lifetime, Aivazovsky’s work also suffered from accusations by critics of being “old fashioned,” “commercial,” and “fit for drawing rooms.” The State Tretyakov Gallery is aiming to change the attitude to his legacy, presenting him as an artist of “sincere feelings and romantic emotions” as well as “profound ideas and symbolistic generalizations.”

“Ivan Aivazovsky. The 200th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth” sheds new light on the artist’s technical brilliance, expressive virtuosity, and compositional mastery, exemplifying his prodigious talent for conveying the vital essence of a particular moment in time, capturing the emotions and drama of the forces of nature, and creating the illusion of infinite and boundless spaces.

Highlights of the exhibition include the four masterpieces “The Rainbow” 1873, “The Black Sea” 1881 (both from the Tretyakov Gallery), “The Ninth Wave” 1850, “The Wave” 188, (both from the State Russian Museum), as well as the large-format painting “On the shores of the Caucasus” 1885 (from the Tretyakov Gallery) which is being shown for the first time.

“Ivan Aivazovsky. The 200th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth” is at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow until November 20, 2016.

Click the slideshow to see images of the exhibition