Hovhannes Aivazovsky

Born: 1817, Theodosia
Died: 1900, Theodosia

Painter, graphic artist. Born in the Crimean port of Theodosia to a poor Armenian family (1817). His father, Kaitan Haivazian, was a ruined merchant who originally came from Galicia, where he took the more Slavic name of Konstantin Haivazovsky. Studied at Armenian parish school and received drawing lessons from local architect Jacob Koch (late 1820s). Moved to Simferopole (1830) with the family of Alexander Kaznacheyev, governor of Tauride Province, who awarded him a scholarship to study at Simferopole Grammar School (1831–33). Travelled to St Petersburg and enrolled at Maxim Vorobyov’s landscape painting class at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1833). Spent the summer at the estate of collector Alexei Tomilov and drew from life in the village of Uspensky on the River Volkhov (1834). Awarded a minor silver medal and appointed assistant to the French landscape artist Philippe Tanneur during his visit to Russia (1835). Awarded a minor gold medal and introduced to Alexander Pushkin when the poet and his wife visited the Academy (1836). Joined Alexander Sauerweid’s battle-painting class and awarded a studio at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1837). Painted from life at Znamenka in Peterhof and joined the Baltic Fleet on the Gulf of Finland (1837). Graduated from the Academy with a major gold medal (1837). Travelled to Theodosia (1838) and worked in the Crimea as a fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1838–40). Joined the Russian naval squadron on the Black Sea and awarded the title of fourteenth-class artist (1839). Returned to St Petersburg and changed the spelling of his surname to Aivazovsky (1840). Continued his fellowship of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Italy, travelling via Berlin, Vienna and Trieste (1840). Met Nikolai Gogol in Venice and Alexander Ivanov in Florence (1840). Lived in Rome, Naples and Venice (1840–42). Visited Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Great Britain, where he met J.M.W. Turner, who wrote a poem in his honour (1842). Returned to Naples via Paris and Marseille (1842). Visited Paris (1842) and awarded a gold medal by the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (1843). Visited Great Britain, Portugal, Spain and Malta (1843) and returned to Russia via Paris and Amsterdam (1844). Awarded the title of academician and employed as the official artist of the Russian Navy to paint seascapes, coastal scenes and naval battles (1844). Accompanied Grand Duke Konstantin Nikolaevich to Turkey, Asia Minor and the Greek archipelago, visiting Constantinople, Patmos and Rhodes (1845). Settled in Theodosia, where he built a house and studio and painted the Black Sea ports for Tsar Nicholas I (1845). Attended the manoeuvres of the Black Sea Fleet (1845–46) and the Baltic Fleet at Peterhof (1846). Elected to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam (1847). Awarded the title of professor of painting of seascapes by the Imperial Academy of Arts (1847) and elevated to the rank of nobility (1847). Married Julia Graves (1848), daughter of a British surgeon in the Russian Navy, although they later separated (1860) and divorced (1877). Birth of their daughters Elena (1849), Maria (1851), Alexandra (1852) and Joanne (1858). Joined Tsar Nicholas I on a naval voyage to Sebastopole and took part in manoeuvres on the Black Sea (1851). Conducted archaeological excavations near Theodosia (1852). Elected a full member of the Russian Geographical Society (1853). Forced by the Crimean War to evacuate to Kharkiv (1854), but visited the besieged fortress of Sebastopole for work on a painting (1854). Worked in Paris (1856–57), where he was the first Russian artist to be awarded the Légion d’honneur (1858). Visited Constantinople (1857) and awarded the Turkish order of the Medjidie (1858). Elected an honorary member of the Moscow Art Society (1858), awarded the Greek order of the Redeemer (1859) and the Russian order of St Vladimir (1865). Opened a studio for young artists in Theodosia (1865) and awarded a salary by the Imperial Academy of Arts (1865). Visited Constantinople and painted a series of works depicting the Greek War of Independence (1868). Travelled through the Caucasus and worked in Tiflis (1868–69). Attended the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). Promoted to the rank of full state councillor (1870). Built a chapel and an archaeological museum in Theodosia (1871). Visited Florence and painted a self-portrait for the Palazzo Pitti (1874). Travelled to Constantinople at the invitation of Sultan Abdul-Aziz I and awarded the Turkish order of Osmaniye (1874). Visited Florence (1876) and elected an honorary member of the Königliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart (1878). Travelled to Holland and Paris (1878) and lived in Frankfurt (1878–79). Visited Munich and travelled to Genoa and Venice to plan a painting on Christopher Columbus’s voyage to America (1879). Opened a picture gallery and elected an honorary citizen of Theodosia (1880). Held an exhibition at Pall Mall in London, which was attended by John Everett Millais and the Prince of Wales (1881). Married Anna Boornazian (1883), a young Armenian widow, whom he met at her husband’s funeral in Theodosia (1882). Visited Moscow and St Petersburg (1882) and travelled down the River Volga (1884). Promoted to the rank of privy councillor (1885) and elected an honorary member of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1887). Visited Paris with his wife (1890). Awarded the Polish order of the White Eagle (1893) and the Russian order of St Alexander Nevsky (1897). Promoted to the rank of full privy councillor (1896). Died in Theodosia and buried at the Church of St Sarkis (1900). Painted around six thousand pictures and contributed to over one hundred exhibitions and fifty-five one-man shows in Russia, Europe and the United States (from 1835). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1836–1900), Paris Salon (1843, 1879), Society of Exhibitions of Works of Art (1876–83), Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1880), Pan-Russian Exhibitions in Moscow (1882) and Nizhny Novgorod (1896), World Exhibitions in Paris (1857, 1865, 1878), London (1863), Munich (1879) and Chicago (1893) and the international exhibitions in Philadelphia (1876), Munich (1879) and Berlin (1886). One-man shows in Rome, Naples and Venice (1841–42), Paris (1843, 1890), Amsterdam (1844), Moscow (1848, 1851, 1886), Sebastopole (1854), Tiflis (1868), Florence (1874), St Petersburg (1875, 1877, 1886, 1891), Frankfurt (1879), Stuttgart (1879), London (1881), Berlin (1885, 1890), Warsaw (1885), Constantinople (1888), New York (1893), Chicago (1893) and San Francisco (1893).

Random articles