İvan Konstantinoviç Ayvazovski
Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, a Russian painter of Armenian origin, was born in Feodosia, on the Black Sea coast. In 1833 he entered the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. In 1840, he was rewarded by the Academy and sent to Europe. He continued his artistic activities under the auspices of the last four tsars of the Russian Empire, and was appointed the chief painter of the Russian navy. He visited Istanbul numerous times during the reigns of Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839-1861), Sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861-1876), and Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909). On some of these visits he represented the Russian Empire in an official capacity, and on other, private journeys, he managed to attract the attention of the court. Upon his first visit to Istanbul in 1845, he was received at the palace by Sultan Abdülmecid. He travelled to Istanbul twice again in 1857 and 1858, and was awarded the Order of Mecidiye for the painting he presented to the sultan. Returning to Istanbul in 1874, during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz, this time he received the Osmani Order. He visited the city four times during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II, in 1880, 1886, 1888, and 1890, organising various exhibitions. The exhibition he opened at the Russian Embassy in 1880 attracted great attention, and he was rewarded by the sultan with a diamond medal. He organised two separate exhibitions in 1886 and 1888, the latter of which was greatly admired by Sultan Abdülhamid II, once again earning Aivazovsky an Order of Mecidiye. He came to Istanbul for the last time in 1890 and was received in the Yıldız Palace, receiving the Order of Mecidiye for presenting two paintings to the sultan.
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