In 1845, Ivan Aivazovsky acquired a plot in the outskirts of Feodosiya, on the very seashore. He decided to build a house with a big art studio and dreamed to establish a school of painting there.
The same year, 1845, the first exhibition comprising 49 works was opened in a part of the house.
In his new Feodosiya studio Aivazovsky created one painting by another. He painted seascapes of Italy, Constantinople, Odessa, Sevastopol, and a huge number of paintings devoted to the Crimea and the Black Sea, the Crimean War of 1853 to 1856 and the glorious Siege of Sevastopol of 1854 and 1855.
In 1865, he opened an art studio in the city on his own expense. Lev Lagorio, Adolf Fessler, Konstantin Bogaevsky, Maximilian Voloshin, three grandsons of the painter Alexey Hansen, Konstantin Artseulov, Mikhail Latri, and a group of Armenian artists were his students. In the Aivazovsky's studio the students were taught the same way as in the Academia. They copied original paintings and drew from life. Aivazovsky sent the best works to the Academia to be encouraged. There were more and more people willing to study Aivazovsky and copy his paintings. And then he decided to add to his house an art gallery.
The official opening of the Gallery was timed to the artist's birthday and took place on 29 July 1880. It was the first provincial art gallery in Russia being very popular even during lifetime of the seascape painter. The paintings collection was continuously changed because the painter's works were sent to exhibitions and never returned. Thus they were replaced by new just painted works.
A stage was specially constructed in the studio where many musicians including a famous pianist Anton Rubinstein and composer Alexander Spendiaryan, Medea and Nikolay Figner, and Konstantin Varlamov, actors of the St. Petersburg Mariinsky and Alexandrinsky Theatres, as well as an Armenian tragedian Petros Adamian and violinist Ovanes Nalbandian appeared.
By that time, the Aivazovsky's Gallery was a centre of artistic, music and dramatic art in the city. It was visited by young artists and Ivan Aivazovsky was happy to impart his knowledge and skills to them. Ivan Shishkin, Mikhail Vrubel, Alexei Savrasov were influenced by creative style of Aivazovsky during the years of their achievements.
In his will Aivazovsky wrote, "I sincerely wish that the building of my Art Gallery in Feodosiya with all its paintings, statues and other works of art absolutely belonged to the city of Feodosiya. And to my, Aivazovsky's, memory I give the Gallery in will of Feodosiya, my hometown."
After Ivan Aivazovsky died his Art Gallery became a property of the city.
Leaving his Art Gallery by testament to the city Aivazovsky created a hearth of art by which Russian seascape painting developed. The Gallery became the only seascape painting museum of this kind in Russia.
The Aivazovsky National Art Gallery, the museum of seascape painting, consists of two buildings in 2 Galereynaya Street (the main exposition with works of Ivan Aivazovsky) and 4 Galereynaya Street (the former house of the painter's sister, now a scientific department of the Gallery called The Russian and Contemporary Seascape).
In 1922, the Gallery was nationalized. Its collection numbers about 12,000 seascape works including the world biggest collection of Aivazovsky's paintings (417 works). The most famous exhibited paintings are Brig "Mercury" Attacked by Two Turkish Ships, Raid on Sevastopol, Maria on the Northern Sea, St. George's Monastery, The Sea. Koktebel as well as the biggest painting by Aivazovsky called Amidst the Waves that is 282 cm (111 in) in width and 425 cm (167 in) in length.
The Gallery exposition introduces creative work of Ivan Aivazovsky, the history of his family and the Gallery itself. Valuable things belonging to the Ayvazovskys are exhibited in a safe room.
In the neighbouring building, the hose of the painter's sister, mythological and Biblical paintings of Aivazovsky are exhibited as well as works by foreign seascape painters of the 18th and 19th centuries, contemporaries of the great artist such as Maximilian Voloshin, Lev Lagorio, and Konstantin Bogayevsky, students of Aivazovsky including Mikhail Latri, Adolf Fessler, and Arkhip Kuindzhi, and works by Soviet artists.
Nowadays, the Aivazovsky National Art Gallery is a tourist dominant of the South Eastern part of the Crimea and a pilgrim destination for artists, experts in the arts, romantic people, and judges of the beautiful.
The Museum House of Alexander Grin (Alexander Stepanovich Grinevsky) (the Museum, for short) is a house where the writer lived from 1924 to 1929.
The Museum was opened on 9th July, 1970.
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