Review of the Black Sea Fleet in 1849 - Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky. 131 x 249 cm
XIX century - the time of the brilliant victories of the Russian fleet. Having taken part in several naval operations and visited Sevastopol during the Crimean War, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky admired the heroism and courage of the Russian sailors and was proud of the experience and talent of our famous naval commanders, many of whom I knew personally.
In 1849, he took part in a review of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, conducted by Emperor Nicholas I. This magnificent sight was so cut into the artist's memory that in 1886 he would paint a picture dedicated to this event, filled with triumph and a sense of pride.
The sun stands high in the sky, with bright blinding reflections reflected in the water, a path shimmers with silver, running along small waves. Light, elongated clouds float across the pale blue sky. In the distance, in a soft golden-gray haze, a panorama of the Sevastopol Bay is visible, a white city is spread in the hills. On the horizon, the gentle bluish-blue outlines of the mountains are melting.
Emperor Nicholas I stands on the deck of the steamboat frigate Vladimir, receiving a parade, carefully peering at the approaching squadron. Not far from it, next to Admiral M.P. Lazarev, are P.S. Nakhimov, V.I. Istomin, and V.A. Kornilov. Their faces are concentrated, their hands are clenched into fists, their eyes, not looking up, are closely watching the movement of the ships.
And in front of them, in a majestic wake formation, having spread his sails, the pride and glory of Russia - the Black Sea Fleet, one of the strongest in the southern seas, is swiftly and easily.
With a quiet hiss, they cut a small wave of stems, leaving a foamy trail. Tall masts are looking at the sky, bearing towels filled with wind, bright white in the sun or bluish-ash in the shade. Proudly fluttering in the wind, white and blue St. Andrew's flags. Red ports are open on the cannon decks, cannons ready for battle are visible. Sunlight underlines the whiteness of the stripes on the sides, under the bowsprit directed forward on the bow of the ships, two-headed eagles spread their wings clearly visible.
As he sets the pace, he leads the Twelve Apostles column, a battleship carrying 130 cannons. Behind him are no less famous sailboats that took part in the Crimean War.
Teams are lined alongside. Ideal training - not a single ship is out of order, not a single sail has lost wind. Rapid-winged gulls, companions of sailors, circling over the waves.
To emphasize the significance of the moment, the artist chooses restrained colors: steel gray, blue, cold blue and calm olive-brown. The picture is filled with light and air. It is so real that we feel the fresh sea breeze, we hear the cries of seagulls and the splashing of dissected waves, we feel the enormity and magnificence of the sails over the sea. Sea water is foaming overboard, changing its color from silver-steel in the sunlight to dark lead-blue in the shade.
But the prevailing shades of gray make a sad note. In a few years, all these beauties will be flooded in the Sevastopol Bay, blocking the way for English ships.
You can admire these sailboats imprinted on the canvas for a long time, remembering the Russian sailors and naval commanders, whom we are still proud of.