The People of Gibraltar
1844 - Ivan Aivazovsky - Astonishingly Beautiful

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky was a Russian artist and perhaps the most prolific painter of his era - he is estimated to have painted well over 6000 painting in his lifetime. 

Ivan Aivazovsky  ( 1841 ) Alexey Tyranov

He was also considered by many as one of the greatest marine artists of the 19th century. Today some of them fetch record breaking prices when put on auction.

View of Constantinople and the Bosporus - sold for a record 5.2 million at Sotheby's in 2012 ( 1856 )

His romantic masterpiece is perhaps 'The Ninth Wave' which is held by the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. It is often described in the literature as 'the most beautiful picture in Russia'.

The Ninth Wave ( 1850 )

None of which have much to do with Gibraltar. Nevertheless, as early as 1844, he had already produced the amazingly atmospheric picture in which a particularly well drawn Rock of Gibraltar form  the perfect back drop to the main theme.

Gibraltar by Night ( 1844 )

Then, in 1873, he produced yet another astonishingly beautiful picture in which the Rock forms part of the background noise. It also deservedly fetched a then record price when it came up for auction.

American Shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar ( 1873 )

I cannot find any record of him ever having visited Gibraltar, but he did study in Italy and may have at least gone through the Straits a few times. Whether he did or not, perhaps we should feel privileged that such a marvellous marine painter took the trouble to paint our home town in such a dramatic and satisfying manner.

Shipping Off Gibraltar