Ivan Aivazovsky (July 29, 1817 – May 5, 1900) was an Armenian-Russian world-renowned painter living and working in Crimea, most famous for his seascapes, which constitute more than half of his paintings. Aivazovsky is widely considered as one of the greatest seascape painters of all time
Aivazovsky was deeply affected by the Hamidian massacres of Armenians in Asia Minor in 1895, painting a number of works on the subject such as "The Expulsion of the Turkish Ship," and "The Armenian Massacres at Trevizond." and renouncing a medal which had been awarded to him in İstanbul.
He spent his last years in Feodosia where he supplied the town with water from his own estate, opened an art school, began the first archaeological excavations in the region and built a historical museum. Due to his efforts a commercial port was established at Feodosiya and linked to the railway network. Aivasovsky died in Feodosiya in 1900.
Aivazovsky is best known for his seascapes and coastal scenes. His technique and imagination in depicting the shimmering play of light on the waves and seafoam is especially admired, and gives his seascapes a romantic yet realistic quality that echoes the work of English watercolorist J. M. W. Turner and Russian painter Sylvester Shchedrin.
Especially effective is his ability to depict diffuse sunlight and moonlight, sometimes coming from behind clouds, sometimes coming through a fog, with almost transparent layers of paint. A series of paintings of naval battles painted in the 1840s brought his dramatic skills to the fore, with the flames of burning ships reflected in water and clouds. He also painted landscapes, including scenes of peasant life in Ukraine and city life in İstanbul. Some critics have called his paintings from İstanbul Orientalist, and others feel the hundreds of seascapes can be repetitive and melodramatic.
Aivazovsky became the most prolific Russian painter of his time. Early in his career, he was elected a member of five Academies of Fine Arts, including those of St. Petersburg (his Alma Mater). Rome, Florence, Stuttgart and Amsterdam.
Aivazovsky left over 6,000 works at his death in 1900. The funds earned during his successful career as an artist enabled him to open an art school and gallery in his hometown of Feodosiya.