Alexander Andreevich Ivanov is known to the general public primarily for his great painting, “The Appearance of Christ to the People.” In his works he preferred religious and mythological subjects.
Alexander Andreyevich was born on July 28, 1806 in St. Petersburg in the family of Andrei Ivanovich Ivanov and Ekaterina Ivanovna Dimmert. The boy showed artistic ability early. At age 11, he began to attend the Imperial Academy of Arts, where his father served as a professor, as a “free-coming” student. During the training received two silver and two gold medals.
In 1830, the artist left for Italy to further study painting. The trip was paid for by the Arts Promotion Society. Having passed Germany and Austria, Ivanov settled in Rome. There he studies ancient art and the works of Renaissance masters. In Italy, he will live 28 years.
In Rome, Alexander Ivanov painted the paintings “Apollo, Hyacinth and Cypress, engaged in music” and “The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene”. For the last picture, the artist was awarded the title of Academician of Arts and the extension of payment for a trip to Italy for three years.
In 1836 Ivanov began to write the painting “The Appearance of Christ to the People”. Work on it will last as long as 20 years. During this time, the artist created many sketches and sketches that have long acquired independent value. In addition, Alexander Ivanov painted landscapes, portraits, and genre sketches.
In Italy, the artist met N.V. Gogol, with whom he remained friendly for a long time. The famous portrait of the writer, painted by Ivanov in 1841.
After the deadline for paying for his trip, Ivanov lived very poorly, asking for money from patrons. He had to sit literally on bread and water, he spent all his income on the embodiment of his grandiose plan - painting.
The artist led a secluded life, almost not communicating with anyone. He had several unsuccessful love affairs, but he never married.
In 1845, Alexander Ivanov worked on sketches of the altarpiece "The Resurrection of Christ" to the construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. However, they will not be destined to see the light, since the order was given to Karl Bryullov.
The events of the Italian revolution of 1848 greatly influenced the artist. He had a crisis of faith, doubts arose about the divine essence of Christ.
In this difficult time, Alexander Ivanov has another grandiose plan. He was going to write all his life and the deeds of Jesus Christ and stories from the Old Testament, where there are references to the Savior. The artist planned to place these works in a separate building - “The Temple of Humanity”. In total, Ivanov wanted to write 500 frescoes and worked on sketches for them until the end of his life. After his death, 200 watercolor sketches known as “Biblical Sketches” remained. Now they are stored in the Tretyakov Gallery.
Religious doubts led the painter to disappointment in the design of his main work. In addition, he began to have vision problems. In the end, the painting “The Appearance of Christ to the People” remained incomplete.
As such, in 1858 Ivanov took a huge canvas to St. Petersburg. He was placed at the Academy of Fine Arts along with preliminary studies and sketches. The exhibition has become a significant event in the life of St. Petersburg. The picture caused mixed reviews: both enthusiasm and criticism. All these experiences affected the artist’s health. Alexander Ivanov fell ill with cholera and died on July 3, 1858. Some time after his death, news came that Emperor Alexander II bought the painting for 15,000 rubles and granted the author the Order of St. Vladimir.
Many consider Alexander Ivanov to be the author of one work, but this is not so. He wrote other outstanding works. He made a great contribution to the development of Russian painting.