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  • Ivan Aivazovsky
    Jul 29, 1817 - May 02, 1900
  • View of Odessa on a Moonlit Night - 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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View of Odessa on a Moonlit Night
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  • View of Odessa on a Moonlit Night

  • Ivan Aivazovsky
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  • 1861
    Oil on canvas
    61.5 x 90.5cm (24 1/2 x 35 1/4 in.)

    In 1846, Nicholas I commissioned Aivazovsky to paint a series on Russian ports, including Odessa, Sevastopol and Kerch. These views were well-received and a number were exhibited in Theodosia the same year, and his subsequent views of Odessa are relatively rare and highly sought-after. With its dark skies and moonlit seafront, the present 1861 view is among the most dramatic depictions of the city by this ‘unrivalled master’, as Dostoevsky dubbed him in the same year.

    Founded by order of Catherine the Great in 1794, Odessa grew rapidly during the 19th century, becoming the fourth largest city in the Russian Empire and its largest port on the Black Sea. A free port between 1819 and 1858, it was home to a diverse mix of people. Its economic success was reflected in its architecture, such as the impressive Classicist buildings facing the port, or the famous giant stairway built between 1837 and 1841, which connects the port with the city. Clean diagonals clearly appealed to Aivazovsky, whether the formal architecture and steps in the present lot, or the clear lines of the terraces and railways that cut through his shorelines, for example Moonrise: the First Train in Theodosia (1892), or even the long straight paths through cornfields.

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Other paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky:

Hauling A Horse and Cart out of Ice
Hauling A Horse and Cart out of Ice
An Imperial Welcome at Sudak
An Imperial Welcome at Sudak
Shipwreck off the Black Sea Coast
Shipwreck off the Black Sea Coast
Moonlight On The Bosphorus
Moonlight On The Bosphorus
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.