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  • Ivan Aivazovsky
    Jul 29, 1817 - May 02, 1900
  • Shipwreck off the Black Sea Coast - 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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Shipwreck off the Black Sea Coast
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  • Shipwreck off the Black Sea Coast

  • Ivan Aivazovsky
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  • 1887
    Oil on canvas
    137 x 234 cm (54 x 92in.)

    The original owner of the present lot, James Frederick Dickson, was a renowned Swedish industrialist and merchant. He and his wife, Blanche Dickson, lived on the Tjol?holm estate in Sweden, in an art nouveau-inspired castle which they designed and completed in 1904 to house their family and their growing art collection (fig. 3).

    Dickson gifted Shipwreck Off the Black Sea Coast to his daughter Blanche and her husband, Count Carl Bonde (fig.2). The young couple lived together at the Tjol?holm castle until 1920, and Blanche continued to spend her summers at the estate until 1951. After her death, the painting was inherited by the pair’s youngest child, Count Thure Bonde. This masterwork would have therefore hung in the halls of the Tjol?holm castle throughout the first half of the 20th century.

    Shipwreck Off the Black Sea Coast was painted in 1887, only two years before Aivazovsky executed his 3 by 5 metre masterpiece The Wave (fig.1). The brilliant translucence of the waves, the greenish tint to the water and the heavier, almost sculptural brushstrokes that build up the rocks and the sky are typical of these large-scale works. Aivazovsky’s shipwrecks are practically Biblical in their scope, with nature at its most unforgiving and man at his most helpless. His shipwrecked survivors are the ‘unhappy creatures, storm-tossed, disconsolate’ of Isaiah, and no doubt it is the drama of these colossal canvases that appealed so directly to a public primed by the Romantic sensibilities of the age.

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Other paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky:

An Imperial Welcome at Sudak
An Imperial Welcome at Sudak
View of Odessa on a Moonlit Night
View of Odessa on a Moonlit Night
Moonlight On The Bosphorus
Moonlight On The Bosphorus
Moonlight Over the Dnieper
Moonlight Over the Dnieper
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.