Fascination with the sea for Aivazovsky began when he was still at the Academy, when he created for a traditional academic exhibition his first seascape.
This fascination Ivan Aivazovsky will carry throughout his life. The best works of the Russian artist portray stormy sea, as well as sea battles – the golden pages of the history of the Russian navy.
We have selected for you five famous paintings by the artist: several marine landscapes and battle scenes.
Ivan Aivazovsky in this painting refers to a battle scene – the victory of the Russian navy over the Turkish navy in Chesmen battle that took place one night in 1770.
A little bit of history
Russian Navy defeated the strongest in the world at that time Turkish navy in the Bay of Chesme. It would seem that the Turkish fleet had all the advantages – a significant advantage in the power of their fleet, the backup of their on-shore batteries, a good locationand the glory of the strongest navy in the world.
However, after the attack by a part of the Russian fleet from a long distance of the ships and land-based Turkish batteries, one of the Turkish ships exploded. At night the remaining part of the Russian fleet came to the bay, including the fire-ships. Russians sent to the bay 4 fire-ships (specially converted small vessels of the fleet, which were intended to set fire to enemy ships of the line).
Only one of them under the command of Lieutenant Ilyin reached the goal and entered a fight with a ship of the line. Russian sailors set fire to a fire-ship and took away from it on a boat. Soon the battleship exploded and started a chain reaction: a few more ships caught fire and exploded as well. Disorganized enemy was then attacked by the Russian fleet. Huge Turkish fleet, the most powerful at the time, was almost completely destroyed in one night.
Russians sent several boats to bring out at least a few Turkish ships from the inferno (the boat is visible in the picture), but they only managed to save one ship of the line.
Out of the 9 Russians battleships not a single one got damaged, and out of the 16 Turkish battleships 15 exploded or got burned, as well as numerous support vessels.
Russians lost 11 men who got killed in the battle. Losses of the Turks were in the thousands.
The horror of the battle was perfectly conveyed by Ivan Aivazovsky in his painting.
An alreadyfavorite theme of Ivan Aivazovsky – a shipwreck. Yet at the same time new, not common before to the Russian portrait painter, color solutions. Survivors, who may have spent the whole night in the boat by a half-sunk ship, see a rainbow. Rainbow reflection plays in the splashes of water painting the raging sea in joyful and warm tones. And the people in the boat cheer up and feelhope.
Rainbow, oil on canvas (1873)
Pushkin farewell to the sea
The painting was created by Ivan Aivazovsky for the 50th anniversary of the death of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in a duel. Aivazovsky met with Pushkin, and the great poet was well preserved in the artist’s memory.
Ivan Aivazovsky wrote the landscape part of the painting, while Ilya Repin – the figure of Alexander Pushkin.
In the painting Pushkin, who was in exile in Odessa, is sent into exile as well, but this time to the village of Mikhailovskoe.
“Farewell, free power! … “
A.S. Pushkin / “To the Sea”
Pushkin farewell to the sea, oil on canvas (1887)
Brig “Mercury” Attacked by Two Turkish Ships
The story of this battle made a very strong impression on the Russian artist.
In 1829, the 18-gun brig “Mercury” under the command of Captain Kazarsky met with two linear Turkish ships (totaling 184 guns). The ship rig did not allow it to avoid combat. Russian officers and sailors decide to take the fight. As a result of a two-hour battle, the brig “Mercury” was able to inflict a heavy defeat first to one battleship by taking it out of the battle, and then to cause severe damage to another Turkish shipof line, so it had to also leave the battle. The brig itself was badly damaged and barely got back the Russian port of Sevastopol. But at the same time brig human casualties were minimal.
Brig “Mercury” attacked by two Turkish ships, oil on canvas (1892)
Of course the situation depicted in Ivan Aivazovsky painting is hardly accurate – it would be suicide for the brig to enter the corridor between the Turkish battleships. One salvo – and the brig would have sunk. Most likely, the brig, having better maneuverability, used this particular advantage over the slow-moving ships of the line.
And a fifth painting? It is without exaggeration, the crown jewel of the creative work of Ivan Aivazovsky. And besides, it is the most famous painting of the seascape painter. The painting is already in another list of ours, and you’ll find it following the link below.
Ivan Aivazovsky knew the sea well – suck fickle, terrible and beautiful element of nature – and that is why his paintings are timeless.