Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovskii (1817-1900)
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Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovskii (1817-1900)

St. Isaac's on a frosty day

Details
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovskii (1817-1900)
St. Isaac's on a frosty day
signed 'Aivasovsky' (lower right)
oil on canvas
43 7/8 x 56¾ in. (111.1 x 144.2 cm.)
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, F. I. Bulgakov, New Pictures by Professor I. K. Aivazovskii, St. Petersburg, 1891, no. 9, illustrated.
G. Caffiero and I. Samarine, Seas, Cities and Dreams, The Paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky, London, 2000, pp. 200-201, pl. 139.
Exhibited
St. Peterburg, New paintings by Professor I. K. Aivazovskii, St. Peterbsurg Academy of Arts, 1891, no. 9.
Special notice

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Lot Essay

Ivan Aivazovskii, the prolific artist renowned for his chromatic seascapes, achieved international acclaim in his early twenties for canvases imbued with elemental drama.
Born in Theodosia, a bustling port on the Black Sea, Aivazovskii displayed artistic ability from an early age and later studied under the landscape artist M. N. Vorobiov at the St. Peterburg Academy of Arts. Aivazovskii's first painting, Study of the Air over the Sea (1835, Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow), was well-received and led to opportunities to travel abroad and his appointment as the offical artist of the Russian Navy. He quickly established a reputation for his masterful seascapes that combine a delicate tonal harmony with an almost imaginary quality.
The present painting is an extremely rare treatment of an architectural subject by the artist and is an excellent example of Aivazovskii's mature work. St. Isaac's Cathedral, named after St. Isaac of Dalmatia, the saint on whose name-day St. Petersburg was founded, was built over a period of forty years (1818-1858) under the supervision of the architect Auguste de Montferrand. Colossal granite columns were ripped from the earth with sledgehammers and chiselled by over 7,000 men in order to construct this symbol of man's subjugation of nature. The towering dome of Aivazovskii's canvas, gilded with over 100 kg of gold, provides an artificial light source whose rays are diffused by the palpably frosty atmosphere.

This work was exhibited in St. Petersburg in 1891 at the St. Peterburg Academy of Arts.

We are grateful to Alexandra Petrovan Smirnova for assisting us in cataloguing the present painting.
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