The Ninth Wave by Ivan Aivazovsky

Aivazovsky’s painting titled “The Ninth Wave” is one of his most famous paintings. It was painted in 1850. Aivazovsky was a Russian Armenian marine painter, who is a recognised master of depiction of seascapes. It now hangs at State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

This painting is usually referred to as the most beautiful painting in Russia. Aivazovsky painted this when he was 33 years old. The painting is characteristic of his mature Romanticism in technique, theme and populist appeal.

Aivazovsky had always been in love with the sea. His inspiration was coming from his childhood memories from the years spent on the seaside of the Black Sea, the cold and stormy Baltic sea during his student years and some expeditions taken with the Russian fleet.

The painter was mesmerized by the power of sea, who reportedly not feel fear even in the riskiest situations. Once a ship was in a terrible storm, some said everyone on that ship was dead. Though ship reached the port, the memories of this storm remained with Aivazovsky and later became a foundation to many of his paintings.

The title of painting is based on a popular legend of the ninth wave which is considered to be the most terrible, powerful and destructive wave. In the painting it can be seen fast approaching and yet the darkness of the night is broken by the light of hope. A small group of people cling to the wreckage of the ship’s mast, which seems a more reliable refuge at dawn than it did in the darkness of the night. The desperate attempts done seemed like it will help them conquer the stormy sea and survive. The Ninth Wave was also interpreted metaphorically. The painting acquired symbolic meaning for many future generations. It helped in establishing faith in the victory of man, humanity, and life.

On seeing carefully, we can see that the artist painted a raging ocean on it. The wave is rapidly moving towards the earlier wrecked ship. On this wreck there are still people who survived the earlier tragedy. They lead an unequal fight with the natural elements. But this fight is beyond their power, because, as soon as one wave will go back, another will approache. People are very frightened; and they have no strength left.

He wanted to show via his work the helplessness of people in front of nature’s rage. It’s a battle between unequal forces. Sea waves sweep everything in its path, sparing no one and nothing. There are no obstacles for the elements. Despite that the faith of people does not leave them for a minute, even though they know that nobody will come to help.

The rays of the rising sun reflecting on the ocean, give the water a yellowish shade. The sky at this moment is also depicted very richly, which is typical for thunderclouds. Waves are depicted in the picture in different colours. The artist used a varied palette. Here, and blue, and purple, and the colour of the sea wave. All the sea shades, he displayed simultaneously in one of his work, which gives it a greater saturation of colours.

This picture is filled with strong emotions. The author shows himself as a person who wants to understand people, their thoughts, aspirations. Aivazovsky shows that the heroism of people often manifests itself in the most unpredictable situations. He managed to show in one work not only an amazing natural phenomenon, but also the feelings that people get in such conditions.

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