Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky's Storm at Sea, which comes from a private collection in Prague, was created during the artist’s peak period. This year marks the bicentennial since the birth of the artist, who is considered one of the most important marine painters of all time. He was highly acclaimed during his lifetime and influential throughout Europe; his admirers included William Turner. Today Aivazovsky is generally considered a Russian painter; however, he was Armenian by birth and over time he changed his original name, Aivaz, to Aivazian, Haivazovsky/Gaivazovsky, finally settling with Aivazovsky. He was born and spent most of his life in Feodosia, Crimea. His father was a merchant who met with little success, but due to Aivazovsky's talent and support from aristocrats and important city officials, he attended grammar school in Simferopol and later trained at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. Ever since he was a student, his ability to convincingly convey the illusions of moving water, air and light attracted attention. This skill brought him not only fame and success, but also wealth, high social status and honors: he was appointed official artist of the Russian Navy, painter of the Russian Geographical Society, and professor at the Imperial Academy of Arts, and he traveled and exhibited extensively around the world. Aivazovsky also contributed to the development of his hometown, Feodosia, where he successfully lobbied to have the city linked to the Russian railway network and supplied with drinking water. A prolific artist, Aivazovsky is said to have created over 6,000 paintings during his lifetime. He worked quickly, alla prima and often from memory. Rather than chronologically, his oeuvre can be categorized by topic, with his dramatic scenes of stormy seas ranking among the most impressive. The painting offered here is a masterpiece in this regard. Aivazovsky reduced the motifs he used to the dynamic movement of the waves and a sky darkened by storm clouds. The subject of the painting, inconspicuously tucked into the centre of the canvas, is a steamboat fighting a difficult battle with the rough waters. The painting is executed superbly, demonstrating the mastery and confidence of a mature painter. Aivazovsky painted one of his most famous works, Wave, the same year (oil, 304 x 505 cm, also signed in Latin letters, currently in the collections of the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg). It is possible that both paintings had been created for an exhibition in Paris that Aivazovsky was preparing. Restored. Expert assessment: PhDr. Anna Janištinová. Expert assessment from the 1930s by Václav Vilém Štech. Cited in: Fiala, Vladimir, Russkaya zhivopis v sobraniyakh Chekhoslovakii. Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1974, p. 62, cat. no. 13, with period photographs.