July 01, 1997

Painting up a Storm

From his studio in Theodosia, the painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky completed 6000 works — mainly of ships and the sea. On the occasion of the 160th anniversary of this prolific master’s birth, Russian Life asked Semyon Ekshtut to tell the artist’s story.

You could say that Aivazovsky’s life embodied the “American dream” — from rags to riches. From waiting tables in a coffee house in the Black Sea port of Theodosia, Onik Gaivazovsky (he would later remove the first letter of his last name and change his first to Ivan) went on to become a famous sea painter, whose work adorns some of the most important museums in the world.

Aivazovsky was born a hundred years before the October Revolution, during the reign of Alexander I. He died during the reign of the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, a few months before the beginning of the 20th century. His long life was filled with recognition and a multitude of awards (his dress uniform boasted the Russian Orders of Alexander Nevsky, Vladimir and the White Eagle, along with the French Legion of Honor).

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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