Camel-Cart at Sunset in a Coastal Landscape, signed and dated 1848.
Oil on canvas, 59.5 by 83 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Ivan Aivazovsky painted Camel-Cart at Sunset in a Coastal Landscape during the first summer spent in Crimea, in 1848. In spring that year, the artist realised a long-cherished dream to leave St Petersburg and settle permanently in Crimea, where he had built a villa on the outskirts of Feodosia, right by the sea – on what was then a deserted coastline. It was here that he spent the summer of 1848 with his young wife, walking around the local area with a sketchpad and pencil, making drawings of the sea and scenes from the everyday life of the Crimean Tatars. These sketches were to serve as material for the pictures Aivazovsky painted later in his studio.
Camel-carts were a feature of 19th century life in Crimea, which always aroused interest and curiosity amongst Europeans travelling around the peninsula. It was not only Aivazovsky but also Carlo Bossoli, Luigi Premazzi and other painters who visited Crimea in the mid 19th century, who loved to depict these exotic animals, loaded with all sorts of impedimenta.
Camel-Cart at Sunset in a Coastal Landscape is undoubtedly the most romantic work of this kind. The point here is not only the influence exerted over the artist in these years by the landscape tradition of Karl Bryullov and Semen Shchedrin, but also the composition’s palpable leaning towards the “Italian genre” and Aivazovsky’s unique perception of the world. He strives to create a harmonious image of a southern evening, laying emphasis not so much on native and ethnographic colour, as on the overall magnificence of Creation. The picture is full of air and space, and literally shot-through with the light of the setting sun, in which superfluous detail is lost, lending a special charm to the deserted shoreline. The fine gradations of rose and yellow tints gradually darkening to a deep blue sky demonstrate Aivazovsky’s virtuoso technique and his full brilliance as a Master of the art of painting.