Discover the painting “The Black Sea” by Ivan Aivazovsky

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Ivan Aivazovsky (Иван Айвазовский) is the most famous Russian marine painter, a true poet of the sea whose works are widely known all over the world.

The canvas “The Black Sea” (Черное море) which he painted in 1881 is one of his most significant paintings, and is even is considered by many to be the pinnacle of his work. It is a wide oil on canvas of 149 X 208 cm depicting the Black Sea at the moment of the beginning of a storm. Painted in the romanticism style, this marina painting is now at the State Tretyakov gallery, in Moscow

The painting “The Black Sea” is striking in its scale and depth. The sea seems so wild and indomitable, the boat so tiny.

The first name of the painting was “A storm begins to break out on the Black Sea” and even though it is a wide canvas it is not the largest of Aivazovsky’s works.  He painted a continuation of the picture “The Black Sea” in a separate work called “Among the Waves”, and which can be considered a huge canvas.

In the painting, “The Black Sea”, the palette which is very skillfully chosen by Ivan Aivazovsky, describes the real essence of the sea element and the origin of the name of the Black Sea immediately becomes clear.

In the foreground there is the so-called “Aivazovsky’s wave”. This is a wave with foam curls, a translucent wave obtained by the glazing technique. The water has already taken on a deep leaden hue, and the crests of the waves show the beginning of a storm. 

In almost all marine paintings, people are just a way to emphasize the power of the elements, and in the center of the canvas we can see a lonely boat proudly rising above the sea surface, but so far and seeming so tiny, so defenseless. To be in such weather in the middle of the open sea is deadly. Knowing the harsh and unpredictable nature of the Black Sea, one can only sympathize with the sailors who got into a storm on it.

This sailboat can be seen as a symbol of the insignificance of man in front of the universe and at the same time a sign of a romantic wanderlust.

But thanks to the striking white line of the horizon which divides the painting in half we now wonder if the weather will change and provide an opportunity for the sailboat to get to its native shores safely.

 In the background a gloomy gray sky covered with clouds threatens a prolonged downpour and a dangerous thunderstorm. 

Looking at the picture, it feels like you yourself are on the Black Sea at the time of the storm and you feel the approaching elements.

I hope you enjoy this painting as much as I did

You can also read our earlier article about The 9th Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky

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