Art A-Z: I – Ivanov Aleksandr

Aleksandr Andreevich Ivanov (1806, Saint-Petersburg – 1858, Saint-Petersburg) – painter.

Born to a family of a painter, he studied at the Academy of Art. In 1830, he received scholarship to travel to Italy.

In 1833, in Italy,  he started to make studies for The Appearance of Christ before the People, which became the work of his life (see up).

As Ivanov described the painting him-self, it was about “crossroad of physical and spiritual powers”.

Ivanov was the first in history of Russian art, who used sketches made en plein air for landscape backgrounds. At the same time his style was strictly classical and academic and did not resemble Impressionists, who later also worked en plein air.

Walking on water, study, 1850s

In 1857, Ivanov exposed The Appearance in his workshop in Rome. Inspired by its success in Europe, he brought the painting to Saint-Petersburg, where it was displayed at the Winter Palace (residence of the emperor), and later at the Academy of Art.

Russian public, however, was indifferent and even hostile towards The Appearance. The painter, who had poor health, was depressed by the public’s reaction, and 1858, he caught cholera and died.


Visit the Tretyakov Gallery to learn more about The Appearance, its history, and studies for it.