Aivazovsky, Ivan [Айвазовський, Іван; Ajvazovs’kyj; Baptized: Hovhannes Aivazian], also known as Haivazovsky [Гайвазовський; Hajvazovs’kyj], b 29 July 1817 in Teodosiia, Tavriia gubernia, d 5 May 1900 in Teodosiia. Painter of seascapes, landscapes, and genre paintings. Aivazovsky was descended from a family of Galician Armenians who had settled in the Crimea. He began to study art in Simferopol and completed his art education (in 1833–7) at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. In the early 1840s he travelled widely through Italy, France, England, the Netherlands, and the Ottoman Empire, and gained high reputation for his masterfully executed seascapes. He become an academician of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1845 and an honorary member of the academy in 1887 (he was also a member of four other academies). In 1845 Aivazovsky settled in Teodosiia. A member of the Society of South Russian Artists, he exhibited his work in Odesa, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and elsewhere. Aivazovsky produced some 6,000 paintings, depicting mainly scenes on the Black Sea and turbulent seascapes, including The Ninth Wave, Black Sea, Amid the Waves, Flood in Sudak, and Storm. He also painted sea battles (such as Siege of Sevastopol) and numerous Ukrainian landscapes. During his student years Aivazovsky often traveled in Ukraine with Vasilii Shternberg. Among his many paintings depicting Ukrainian and Crimean scenes and landscapes are the following: Ukrainian Oxcart in Winter, Harvest in Ukraine, Chumaks, Windmill on a Riverbank in Ukraine, Moonlight on the Dnieper, Reed-Bank on the Dnieper near the Town of Oleshky, Winter Scene in Ukraine, Windmills in the Ukrainian Steppe during Sunset, Wedding in Ukraine, Odesa at Night, Crimean View in the Moonlight, View of the Crimea, and Harvest in the Crimea. In 1880 Aivazovsky established an artists’ studio and picture gallery in Teodosiia, which he donated later to the city. The Aivazovsky Picture Gallery in Teodosiia houses some 400 of his works, as well as paintings by Crimean seascape artists and a small collection of seascapes by Western artists. Aivazovsky was the subject of a monograph by N. Barsamov (1967) and a biography by L. Vagner and N. Grigorovich (2001). An album with numerous rich color plates of the artist’s works appeared in 2000 as Seas, Cities and Dreams: The Paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky. Following the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2014, some 40 of Aivazovsky’s paintings have been removed by the Russian occupation authorities from his gallery in Teodosiia and transferred to the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow.
[This article was updated in 2020.]