Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
- Hauling a Horse and Cart Out of Ice
- signed in Cyrillic and dated 1876 l.r.; bears exhibition labels on the stretcher
- oil on canvas
- 28 by 21.5cm, 11 by 8 1/2 in.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Leningrad, The State Hermitage Museum, Collection Basmadjian, August-September 1988
G.Caffiero and I.Samarine, Light, Water and Sky: The Paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky, London: Alexandria Press, 2012, p.302 illustrated
His main experience with ice and snow would have come when he was still a young student at the Academy. It was not until years later, however, in the late 1860s and 1870s, that paintings of icy landscapes became more prominent within Aivazovsky’s oeuvre, mainly depicting the frozen Ukrainian steppes.
The present lot, executed in 1876, is from this very period. The flock of black birds congregating against the snowy expanse is a characteristic touch, shared by another work of that year, Winter Landscape, as well as by the masterpiece Ice-Breakers on the Frozen Neva in St. Petersburg from 1877. Using luminescent greys and purples, Aivazovsky evokes the sense of unbearable cold while conveying the contrasting forces of human strength versus nature as five men work to haul a horse and carriage from the broken ice.
The present work is included in the numbered archive of the artist’s work compiled by Gianni Caffiero and Ivan Samarine.