Hovhannes (Ivan) Aivazovsky’s canvas Genoese Towers in the Black Sea was auctioned at Christie’s for 1 million euros.

The impressive painting Genoese towers in the Black Sea was painted in 1895, a period when Ivan Aivazovsky dedicated most of his time to his beloved Crimean home of Feodosia.

Depicting a section of the 14th century fortress constructed by the Genoese Republic along the shoreline of Feodosia, this painting is an exemplary of Aivazovsky’s desire and ability to achieve dramatic effect. The remnants of a pre-existing maritime power, the ruins of the Genoese towers still present an imposing strength against the greatest force on earth – that of nature.

Soon after its execution, Genoese towers in the Black Sea was included in a significant exhibition, 120ia vystavka kartin I. K. Aivazovskago [The 120th exhibition of I. K. Aivazovsky’s paintings] between 29 December 1895-31 December 1896 at the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in St Petersburg. According to the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, this was the largest collection of works gathered for any show dedicated to the artist to date.

The painting was also included in an important monograph on the artist by the renowned Aivazovsky expert Nikolai Barsamov (1892-1976), published in 1962. Barsamov taught and organized exhibitions in various cities, and in the early 1920s he moved to Feodosia, eventually becoming Director of the city’s Aivazovsky Museum, and where he would work for the remainder of his life.

Genoese towers in the Black Sea is testament to Aivazovsky’s love of, and fascination with his home of Feodosia; a breathtaking night scene that has, remarkably, been in the same private collection for over forty years.

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