Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian Culture >> Aivazovsky Ivan /Hovhannes/

 Ivan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky (17(29). 7.1817, Feodosia-19.4(2.5). 1900, Feodosia) marine artist, classic of Russian and Armenian art. He is the brother of G.K. Aivazovsky. Ivan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky-Shipwreck In the baptismal records of the local St. Sargis Armenian Church, Aivazovsky was listed as Hovhannes, the son of Gevorg Aivazian. Aivazovasky signed in Armenian Hovhannes Haivazovsky till 1843, sometimes he signed  Hovhannes Aivazovsky or Ovannes Aivazian. Aivazovsky studied in the Armenian parochial church council, then in the Russian gymnasium of Simferopol (1830-33), then in  Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg (1833-37). He visited  Italy (as well as the island of St. Lazar), Spain, France, Holland, England, Aivazovsky participated  in the exhibitions, he was awarded golden medal in Paris ( he received Legion of Honour  in 1857). The in 1887, after the return  to Russia  Aivazovsky was made an academician of the Imperial Academy of Arts (professor from 1847, honorary member from 1887) , then he  was appointed the official artist of the Russian Navy. From 1845 he lived in Feodosia, during this period he painted battle scenes. Aivazovsky visited Africa, USA and Russian outskirts, in 1868 he visited Caucasus. Then in 1869 he organized the first Armenian exhibition in Tiflis (“The Castle of Mount Gunib”, “Darial Gorge”, “View of Tiflis”, etc.)

Aivazovsky provided material support to the Greeks, Italians during the national liberationIvan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky - The Ninth Wave struggle, as well as to the students of the Academy of Arts and to the Belarus students. In 1900 a scholarship after Aivazovsky was established in the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.  Ivan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky supported Armenian national organizations, donated his paintings to the schools and organized exhibitions.  He created several paintings such as “The Armenian Massacres at Trebizond”, “Tragedy in the Sea of Marmara”, etc.  Aivazovsky gave material support and shelter to the Armenian refugees, who came to Crimea. He opened a gallery in his native town (1880, now the gallery is after Aivazovsky), a school of fine arts (1865), etc.

Aivazowsky created over 6000 paintings. In his masterpieces, such as   “The Ninth Ivan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky - Catholicos Khrimyan  near EchmiadzinWave” (1850) “Black Sea” (1881, Tretyakov Gallery), “In the Waves” (1898, Aivazowsky gallery, Feodosia), “Storm on the shores of Nice” (1885, National Gallery of Armenia),  Aivazowksy reached to the real and emotional perception of the life, created  a unique expressive language of images.

The paintings of Aivazowsky are symbolic and allegoric.  Depicting waves, clouds and airspace the painter emphasized the light, which is  the interpretation of the light of the creation. In his last paintings (“Ship Maria”, “In the Waves”) the light comes from an invisible source, as  a powerful  beam , which disperses the darkness and inspires hope.

Aivazovsky created a number of paintings onIvan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky - The Baptism of the Armenian People Armenia, in his paintings he depicted everyday life of Tiflis, Lake Sevan, Ararat. He  established and then contributed to the development of landscape painting in fine arts. Aivazovsky created  paintings on the important events  of Bible and Armenian history (“Descent of Noah from Ararat”, 1887, “The Baptism of the Armenian People”, 1892, “Commander Vardan”, “Catholicos Khrimian in Echmiadzin”, 1892, “Lord Byron's visit to San Lazzaro degli Armeni”, 1898, “The Massacre of Adana”, etc). His last painting “The Expulsion of the Turkish Ship” (1900) expresses pain and fury.

Aivazovsky was the member of the academies of fine arts of St. Petersburg, Rome, Florence, Stuttgart , Amsterdam, as well as member of Russian Geographical society.  A quote from Movses Khorenatsi's History of Armenia  is engraved on his tombstone "Born as a mortal, left the immortal memory of himself". 


Source-«Who is who. The Armenians» encyclopedia, volume 1, chief editor Hovh. Ayvazyan, Yerevan, 2007 (in Armenian).


See also

Ivan (Hovhannes) Aivazovsky (paintings)


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