The picture gallery in Feodosia boasts the famous largest in the world collection of the most prominent seascape Ivan K. Aivazovskyi. The Gallery in fact is the sole in Ukraine museum of the seascape painting.
Apart from the pictures of the illustrious seascape painter on show here are the works of his contemporaries and pupils-the artist K. Bogaievskyi, M. Voloshin, M. Latri. There are also the works of modern painters whose art is associated with the landscape of the Eastern Crimea.
The Gallery was founded in 1880 by I. Aivazovskyi whose life and creative career is reflected by the exhibition of the memorial-historical department.
Ivan K. Aivazovskyi was born in Crimea in the seaside city of Feodosia on July 17,1817. The impressions of childhood determined his predilection for the seascape painting. In 1883 he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts..
In 1836 I.Aivazovskyi was introduced to O. Pushkin as a greatly promising artist. He made 10 depictions of the great poet. The picture known most of all is "Pushkin Bidding Farewell to the Sea" executed by Aivazovskyi jointly with Illia Repin.
It took I. Aivazovskyi only four years to finish the six-year course of the Academy of Arts. He received a big gold medal and was granted a scholarship for training abroad.
In Italy I. Aivazovskyi ranked with the best painters of Europe. The seascapes of the young painter appeared at the exhibitions in Rome, Paris, London and Amsterdam. They were highly appreciated by the viewers. In 183 I. Aivazovskyi was awarded in France a gold medal. In Holland he was elected an Academician. It was a significant event since Holland is known to be the homeland of the seascape painting.
I. Aivazovskyi came back from abroad a recognized master. He was made Academician of St, Petersburg Academy. The painter was attached to the Chief Naval Headquarters and was granted the right of wearing the full-dress coat of the Ministry of Navy.
In 1845 the painter settled in Feodosia for good because of hi deep affection for the Black Sea and his native city. He took the most active part in the city's life. He created an art studio, opened a library and initiated the construction of the archeological museum. His tireless civic activities promoted the building of the seaport in Feodosia and the railway to it.
I. Aivazovskyi strove to make his house a center of artistic life.In 1880 to the house where he lived and worked a large hall was added where his paintings were exhibited. This hall became one of the first picture galleries in the country. The house had a small stage where amateur theatricals were arranged.
The Gallery was visited by the townspeople and the passengers of the steamers calling at the Feodosia seaport.
Ivan Aivazovskyi retained till the last day of his life the ability to creative work without which he could not live. His words 'To live means for me to work", could have become the motto of his life.
Aivazovskyi died in the night on April 18, 1900.
In 1900, according to I.K. Aivazovskyi's will the Picture gallery became the property of the city of Feodosia. The bequest numbered 49 pictures of the painter.
It was decided to begin collecting pictures of other masters of seascaping: Lagorio, A. Fessler, E. Magdesian, the painters of Feodosia K. Bogaievskyi, M. Latri, M. Voloshin. This determined the type of the Gallery: it was to become the collection of chiefly seascapes. The Gallery collection was enriched with 11 works of the West European painters and increased fivefold.
In 1941, before occupation of Feodosia, the collection of pictures was evacuated to Yerevan in Armenia. The building of the Picture Gallery was badly damaged. On May 2,1946 the museum was reopened for visitors.
The stocks of the Gallery were enlarged by the paintings of Aivazovskyi, which were transferred from other museums or came from private collections.
The romantic perception of the world was the nucleus of Aivazovskyi's talent. The painter strove to single out not the typical but the exclusive. He created pictures distinguished by a particular sonority and vividness of colours. The sea all glittering with sunlight, quiet moonlit nights are depicted in them with a great skill.
Among the works especially noteworthy are: "The St. George Monastery" /1846/, "Evening in the Crimea. Yalta>" /1848/, "Venice" /1849/, "The Seashore. Farewell". /1851/, "The Ships at the Roadstead", /1851/, "The Sea" /1853/, "the Moonlit Night in the Crimea" /1859/, "The Sea", 1864, "A storm in the North Sea" /1866/.
The creation of these works was preceded by the spiritual atmosphere of Pushkin's epoch. Just as Pushkin in'poetry and K. Briullov in painting expressed freedom-loving ideas, so did Aivazovskyi convey in his romantic works the idea of being happy only in "storms of battle".