8 June 2016
The Survivors, signed twice and dated twice 1876.
Oil on canvas, 47.5 by 64 cm.
Provenance: Russian Paintings, Sotheby’s London, 9 June 2010, lot 128.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
The present lot has been examined by Gianni Caffiero and Ivan Samarine and has been entered under number CS-1876-010 in their catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.
The Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky became famous for his paintings of stormy seas and shipwrecks, which are particularly distinguished by the masterfully conveyed beauty and might of the sea.
Having achieved widespread recognition by the 1870s, and holding a professorship in the academies of art in Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and St Petersburg, Aivazovsky adhered to the principles of classical composition, with its relatively restrained, realistic palette. He was equally skilful in depicting the raging storm or the calm, placid sea; the shimmer of sun rays reflected on its surface or the ripple created by the rain; the clarity of the deep blue sea or the pristine white foam atop the waves.
Aivazovsky’s unique manner of painting the sea and the translucent waves crashing into cliffs, as well as his impressive visual memory, enabled him to depict on his canvasses the various states of nature that he had encountered on his naval voyages. He would often forsake the accuracy of his compositions, recreating the landscapes from memory in a generalised form, adding imaginary genre scenes and striving to convey the effects of light and the states of nature.
Aivazovsky completed the present lot, The Survivors, in 1876, when he was experimenting with the subject of dynamic waves, permeated with sunlight. Although the composition of this painting with its turbulent sea and a capsized ship is typical for Aivazovsky, its colouristic centre is peculiar: the focus is on the group of survivors desperately clinging on for their lives. Devoid of dramatic colour effects and rendered in a range of subdued blue-grey tones, the painting directs the viewer’s gaze towards these survivors by picking them out in contrasting yellows and whites.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.