THE MASTER OF THE SEA: ‘Jesus walks on water’ by Ivan Aivazovsky

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest marine artists of all times is Ivan Aivazovsky. His paintings reflect his ability to capture the ever changing moods of the sea with brilliance and conviction. A Russian Romantic painter, he was born in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in 1817. Situated on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula, he grew up literally by the waves. Thus began his affair with the wonders of the waters. In the mid – 1840’s, he was appointed the main painter of the Russian Navy.

When Aivazovsky began his career, the world of art was dominated by Romanticism. Well, for those who are new to artistic nuances, the word Romanticism has nothing to do with the Romans. Nor has it anything to do with adorable cupids, cruised in the clouds, poised with bows and arrows ready to make two people fall in love.

Rather Romanticism was an intellectual, literary, artistic and musical movement that originated in Europe in the late 18th century. It reached its peak in the 1850’s. Romantic art stressed on emotions, feelings, individualism, spirituality, imagination and fervour. In most of his paintings, Aivazovsky deals with Dark Romanticism. This lays emphasis on feelings of fear, uncertainty, obscurity, horror, despair, pain, and loneliness.

In today’s painting, Aivazovsky features the duality of Romanticism. On one end are the apostles in a precarious position. The atmosphere is sinister and the men at peril. As strong winds wage the sea, the gloominess of the horizon suggests that the weather is going to worsen. On the opposite end stands hope. Christ categorically calms the apostles and the storm by His extraordinary presence. Thus collide the dialectics of Romanticism, of turbulence and peace.

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