The painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, in the nineteenth century, was the author of some of the most incredible paintings representing the sea. Of Russian-Armenian origin, he was one of the most important painters of his time, author of the painting “The Ninth Wave”, considered by many “the most beautiful work of a Russian”.
The title of this incredible painting, in the image below, refers to an old sailing expression referring to a wave of incredible size that comes after a succession of incrementally larger waves.
It depicts a sea after a night storm and people facing death attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship. The cross-shape debris appears to be a Christian metaphor for salvation from the earthly sin, a painting that shows the destructive side, and beauty of nature.
The specialization of Aivazovsky for the maritime landscapes led him to paint half of his more than 6,000 paintings with subjects framed on the water of the sea, managing to reach a perfection in the representation of the waves and their strength with few rivals in the world of painting.
What makes Aivazovsky’s paintings different from his contemporaries is the ability to replicate both the intensity of the movement and the complex texture of the sea waves. During his long travels throughout Europe, he managed to achieve global success thanks to the romance of his paintings. He played with colors and light in order to achieve a magical realism that, a few decades later, became widely exploited even in photographic art.
The emotional bond that linked Aivazovsky with the sea results from the paintings showing Naples or Venice, Istanbul or Genoa, examples of paintings/journals that gathered the admiration of both well-known personalities (such as the Pope of the Catholic church), and people which Aivazovsky often entertained organizing several exhibitions of his works.