Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov – Russian painter
Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov was a Russian painter, thinker and theorist, the author of a grand canvas The Appearance of Christ before the people.
Alexander was born on July 16 (28), 1806 into the family of the artist. At the age of eleven he entered the Imperial Academy of Arts as an external pupil. He studied under the guidance of his father, professor of historical painting Andrei Ivanovich Ivanov.
In 1824 Alexander was awarded a small gold medal for his picture Priam Begging Achilles for the Body of Hector. The subject was taken from Homer’s Iliad and Ivanov painted it when he was eighteen.
In 1827 he received a first-class gold medal for the painting Joseph Interprets the Prisoners’ Dreams.
Ivanov painted the picture Bellerophon Sets Out on a Campaign against Chimaera and was sent abroad. In 1830 he went to Europe. Finally he came to Rome. In Italy he studied Classical and Renaissance art and particularly admired the Venetian frescoes. In response to all this, he produced one of his most poetic works—Apollo, Hyacinth and Cypress Making Music and Singing (1831-34). This painting was a hymn to lyricism, warm friendship and creative inspiration.
Studying the New Testament Ivanov was fond of the idea to portray the first appearance of the Messiah before the people on a large canvas, but before this difficult task the artist decided to try his hand and painted less ambitious picture. In 1834-1835 he painted The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene. The picture was a great success, both in Rome and St. Petersburg, where in 1836 the artist was awarded the title of academician.
Encouraged by this success, Ivanov began painting “The Appearance of Christ before the people”. He worked on the picture for twenty years (1836-1857), and only in 1858, Ivanov decided to send a picture to St. Petersburg. The subject for the painting was taken from the Gospels. On the bank of the River Jordan, where the ceremony of baptism has just taken place, John the Baptist addresses the people with words of hope, pointing to the figure of Christ walking on the hillside. Ivanov made more than 600 preliminary etudes, sketches and drawings.
Ivanov died of cholera on July 3 (15), 1858. He was buried in St. Petersburg at the Novodevichy Cemetery. In 1936 he was reburied at the Tikhvin cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.