Battle of Chesma

Artist: Ivan Aivazovsky
Original name: Чесменское сражение
Style: Romanticism
Genre: battle painting
Date: 1886
Copyright: Public domain

This painting depicts an intensely beautiful and dark scene, and typifies the artist’s talented technique. Aivazovsky was especially revered for his ability to realistically portray the shimmer of light upon water, and in this piece he does so by contrasting the moonlit waves in the foreground with the violently red water in the background, where the boats are being devoured by flames. The shimmer of the flames upon the water’s surface almost gives the painting a surreal quality by pulling the viewer into the inferno. This painting is also typical of the artist’s ability to romanticize the dramatic reality of the burning ships by contrasting them with the soft clouds, complete with full moon peeking gently from the tops.