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Sinking ship, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky - Description of the Painting

28 March 2022
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Sinking ship, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky - Description of the Painting


Sinking ship - Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky. Papier-pellet, pencil. 19.5 x 28.8 cm


The Sinking Ship" was written by Aivazovsky in 1854 on paper with a pencil. The subject work is deeply emotional work, conveying the entire abyss of despair and showing the incredible power of the sea, the impotence of the human creation before the power and indomitability of nature.

The remaining part of the mast of an already sunken sea ship is brought to the fore part of the picture, helping to realize the inevitability of the death of the central character - a ship, with tangled gear and no sails left. Seagulls are soaring around, evoking the associations with the kites flying over a dead body.

On the image, the moment of maximum emotional stress for the viewer is captured: huge waves are sweeping over the ship, which is about to plunge into the abyss. This is the last breath of the ship, the very last cry before death, and the final reflection of the sun on the ship’s board.

One cannot observe any people on the painting, but their fate is still in question: did they managed to survive, or have they already died? The viewer empathizes with a seemingly inanimate thing. The symbols that are close to the human feelings, have been conveyed so skillfully and realistically: fear of the inevitability, impotence, and despair.

The colors chosen for the painting belong to the dark, cold, and gray-green tones, contributing to a gloomy doom mood. The clouds gathered over the ship, highlighting her against the sky, as if they were foreshadowing a quick death and as if nature itself wanted to deal with him.

Any given work of fine art shall not be treated as just a visual picture, it is always rather a story told with the symbols, color, and light. And this is where Aivazovsky tells the story of the futility of human's attempts in equaling the power of the forces of nature, warns of the fatal mistake of this sort of fights and attempts to withstand the elements.
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