The present work is included in the numbered archive of the artist’s work compiled by Gianni Caffiero and Ivan Samarine under the number CS-1890-016.
“A painter who copies nature becomes a slave to it, bound by hand and feet. A man without the gift of memory, gathering his impressions of living nature, can be an excellent copyist, a living photographic camera, but a genuine artist – never.”
The ocean and its ever-changing nature had been the central theme of Ivan Aivazovsky, who was undoubtedly one of the most celebrated maritime artists of his time. A native of Feodosia, a port on the shores of the Black Sea on the Crimean Peninsula, he was fascinated by legends of seafaring from an early age on, and throughout his career he created countless seascapes that blended precise realistic detail and dramatic romantic vision.
Aivazovsky enjoyed widespread public recognition and received multiple international awards during his lifetime. His fame reached far beyond the borders of the Russian Empire and his patrons included the Russian Imperial family, the Ottoman Sultanate, European nobility and wealthy Americans.
Ships battling a storm take up a large part of Aivazovsky’s oeuvre. A master narrator of the sea in all of its tempers and manifestations, he possessed an outstanding ability to render the translucent quality of water and had an extraordinary sense for dramatic Illumination. Therefore, it does not surprise that Aivazovsky has been compared to J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), whom he actually met in person as a young man. Aside from the fact that the ocean was both artists preferred subject matter, both also liked to work from memory rather than from nature, and through the masterful handling of light filled their scenes with a narrative expressiveness.
The present small canvas is a quintessential example of Aivazovsky’s mastery.