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  • Ivan Aivazovsky
    Jul 29, 1817 - May 02, 1900
  • Moonrise over Ayu Dag - Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky was an Armenian-Russian Romantic painter who is considered one of the greatest masters of marine art. Baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian, he was born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in Crimea and was mostly based there.
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Moonrise over Ayu Dag
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  • Moonrise over Ayu Dag

  • Ivan Aivazovsky
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  • 1856
    Oil on canvas
    100 x 151 cm (39 1/2 x 59 1/2 in.)

    One of the earliest large-scale depictions of Ayu Dag by Aivazovsky, this monumental painting of 1856 is among his greatest Crimean views and contains several motifs he would develop, such as the cypresses receding into the distance, grouped Tartars and winding oxen tracks. Flashes of moonlight in the running water and the oxen’s yoke punctuate the shadows in the lower left corner and a small streak of firelight is reflected in the bay at the centre of the seascape. Painted in the same year as his panorama at sunset, View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus (1856), the present work is a beautiful study of moonlight on one of the few prospects he would return to more frequently over the course of his life than the Turkish citadel.

    The Crimean war drew to a close in February of 1856 and the chaos of the previous three years which had left ‘the coastal inhabitants living in fear’ as Aivazovsky wrote, was over at last. The new era of peace allowed Aivazovsky to travel to Paris the following year where he was famously awarded the Légion d’Honneur, an exceptionally prestigious award for a foreign artist.

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Other paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky:

Street in Bakhchisarai
Street in Bakhchisarai
Venice 1882
Venice 1882
The Birth of Aphrodite
The Birth of Aphrodite
The Coast at Yalta
The Coast at Yalta
Ivan AivazovskyIvan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (Hovannes Aivasian) was born on July 29, 1817, in Feodosia, Crimea, Russian Empire, into a poor Armenian family. His father was a modest Armenian trader. His mother was a traditional homemaker. His early talent as an artist earned him a scholarship to study at the Simferopol gymnasium. From 1833-1839 Aivasovsky studied at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, where he was a student of professor Mikhail Vorob'ev, and graduated with the Gold Medal.

Aivazovsky was sent to paint in Crimea and in Italy, being sponsored by the Russian Imperial Academy for 6 years from 1838-1844. His numerous paintings of Mediterranean seascapes won him popularity among art collectors, such as the Russian Czars, the Ottoman Sultan, and among the various nobility in many countries. His dramatic depiction of a sea storm with the survivors from a shipwreck, known as 'The Ninth Wave' (1850), made him extremely famous. The original canvas is in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. He also made many variations and repetitions of this particular painting, as well, as of his other popular works.

Aivazovsky produced over six thousand paintings of variable quality over the course of his long life. Most of his works were made on a longstanding commission from the Imperial Russian Navy Headquarters, where he worked for the most of his life, from the 1840s until 1900. He earned a considerable fortune, which he spent for charity, and also used for the foundation of the first School of Arts (in 1865) and the Art Gallery (in 1889) in his home town of Feodosia.

Aivazovsky was a member of Academies of Rome, Florence, Stuttgart and Amsterdam. He died on May 5, 1900, in Feodosia.