IVAN KONSTANTINOVICH AIVAZOVSKY
signed and dated 1882 l.l.
oil on canvas
70 by 110.5cm, 27¾ by 43¼in.
The canvas is unlined on a keyed wooden stretcher and is structurally sound and secure. There is one small patch on the reverse partially covered by the upper horizontal stretcher bar and there are faint stretcher bar lines which are as to be expected on an unlined canvas of this date and it is obviously most encouraging to find the canvas in its original unlined state. The stretcher bar lines are not visually distracting.
The paint surface has an even varnish layer.
Inspection under ultraviolet light shows small, scattered retouchings including two within the masts of the wrecked ship, some retouchings in the upper right of the sky, small retouchings in the water in the lower left of the composition and other small scattered retouchings. There may be further retouchings which are not easily identifiable under ultraviolet light.
The painting would therefore appear to be in very good and stable condition and no further work is required.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."
Bukowski's, Helsinki, 30 March 1985, lot 119
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
While stormy seas, sinking ships and survivors in lifeboats are common themes in Aivazovsky’s work, the absence of horizon and sky in this painting is very unusual. The tightly cropped composition draws the viewer in and increases the drama of the scene, further enhanced by the striking reflection of light on the waves.
The unusual composition is not the result of the canvas having been cut-down at a later stage but was indeed intended by the artist. A copy of the work, painted by Mikhail Briansky in 1887, only five years after the original, was sold at Sotheby’s London in May 2004. Both its composition and dimensions are identical to the original.
The present work is included in the numbered archive of the artist's work compiled by Gianni Caffiero and Ivan Samarine.