Description of the picture:
Black Sea – Aivazovsky. 1881. Oil on canvas. 149×208 cm
Far from every artist is given the skill of playing natural elements – air, fire, water. Ivan Konstantinovich was immensely endowed with the ability to portray the sea – perhaps none of his contemporaries could better cope with large-scale paintings on the marine theme better than him.
The canvas at first glance impresses with a beautiful image of the violence of the elements. Looking at him, the reason why the Dark Sea got its name immediately becomes clear. Peaceful and gentle, blue-green and calm in good weather, in a storm this sea is transformed into a roaring feral animal.
In its abyss many ships found their own end for a long era of shipping in this area of the world. A hint of this is the tiny image of a ship on the horizon, slightly noticeable behind the stormy water shafts. It is not clear to us whether the ship is in distress, or whether it is controlling the elements, because it is very far from us, almost at the border of heaven and earth. But, knowing the terrible and unpredictable nature of the Dark Sea, navigators caught in a storm on it can only be condolenced.
The famous picture shows the moment when the storm is just beginning. Before the billowing shafts reach their critical height, it is still a long way off, but the water has already filled with the deepest leaden color, and the crests of the waves show a beginning storm. Even a person who just looks at the canvas begins to feel this pitching almost physically, because the sketch of the waves is conveyed with skill that borders on magic.
The color palette of the picture is black, muffled, rather saturated and rich, but without any catchy or “open” color. The whole composition is built on halftones, which should force the waves to overflow with vibrant colors of water into the storm. The sky is written under the steel waves. It is completely covered in languid, as if poured by clouds clouds, threatening lingering rain and unsafe thunderstorm. It is mortally unsafe to be in such weather in the open sea. And only in the distance, near the horizon, the artist wrote a light strip, above which snow-white, harmless clouds swirl. Perhaps it is there, beyond the horizon, covered with clouds, that is the coveted saving land, where a small boat, lost in the terrible, harsh waters of the Dark Sea, is struggling to reach.
The general recollection of the canvas is the indescribable, crushing power of the elements, while lurking, not played out in full force. But soon, soon a storm will strike …"