Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky was born on July 29, 1817 as Hovhannes Aivazian to Armenian parents in Feodosiya, a town in Crimea. At a young age, his artistic talents began to show, he would often make elaborate drawings on the city’s white walls using charcoal. These drawings were noticed by A. Kaznacheyev, the town’s governor, earning him an education in high school and later at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts.
The painter first gained an interest in painting naval battles after taking part in exercises on the Baltic Sea Fleet, at the instruction of his teacher at the academy.Aivazovsky’s first award was in 1837, when one (Calm in the Gulf of Finland) of his five paintings displayed at an exhibition in the academy. Aivazovsky’s first major success was during his trip to Italy where he made paintings of several cities including the coast of Venice. This impressed the locals, bringing him unusual popularity.
In 1845, the painter set out on a voyage across Greece and Asia minor. Later, Sultan Abdulmecid invited the artist to visit the city of Constantinople as a painter for Sultans Abdulmecid, Abdulaziz, and Abdulhamid. To this day, a number of Aivazovsky’s paintings are on display in various parts of Turkey.
Returning to Russia in 1848, he married English governess Julia Graves with whom he had four children with. After dissolving the marriage, Aivazovsky married Anna Boornazian at the age of 48. Later in life, the painter traveled across the word including Egypt where he was invited for the opening of the Suez Canal and received the honor of becoming the first artist to create a painting of the canal. It was a well known fact that Aivazovsky possessed a keen interest in world events, this was evident in 1879 when he traveled to Genoa to collect information on Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the new world.
In his time, Aivazovsky is said to have made over 6,000 works, which he used the funds from to open an art school, opened a museum, and began the first archaelogical dig in the area among other things. The painter died on May 5, 1900 at the age of 82 in his hometown. The artist left behind a sizeable legacy, not excluding his contributions outside of art. His artworks impressed many, most notably Admiral Kornilov, who sent a squadron of battleships to the artist’s town to celebrate his tenth anniversary of his art career.
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