Metaphysics of Light. Painting of Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900)

Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900). Sunset at Sea. 1848. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art. Photo: Normunds Brasliņš
Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900). Sunset at Sea. 1848. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art. Photo: Normunds Brasliņš

Metaphysics of Light, an exhibition dedicated to the oeuvre of the outstanding Armenian origin Russian art school painter Ivan Aivazovsky will be on view at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE in Riga (Doma laukums 6) from 5 October 2019 to 5 January 2020.

Ivan Aivazovsky (Иван Константинович Айвазовский / Ованнес Айвазян, 1817–1900) is a world-renowned sea landscape master, who already during his lifetime was admired by contemporaries. The popularity of the artist has not decreased until nowadays: there are numerous exhibitions and publications, as well as his artworks are highly praised at the international art auctions.

Exhibition shows master’s works from different periods, where light and illumination are the main elements of the composition. Paintings from Latvian, Estonian, Ukrainian museum collections combine works with one theme – variations of lighting. Aivazovsky’s skill to depict on canvas such elusive things as water and light shows author’s in-depth interest in the research of natural phenomenon, his remarkable memory and perfected painting technique. Artist used a complex glaze technique and special brushwork to achieve the presence of light and transparency of water. Sunrise, sunset, when the sun is at its zenith, diffused light of an afternoon, moonlight – these varied metamorphosis of light fill Aivazovsky’s paintings with particular colouristic refinement and nuances of emotional atmosphere. Light which radiates in sea or glitters through waves is one of the most characteristic features of Aivazovsky’s painting and it is visible throughout the artist’s work.

There are 23 works in various genres at the exhibition: marines, historical compositions and landscapes. Together with the artist’s canvases from the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA), paintings from the collections of the Ukrainian and Estonian museums, as well as from private collection are on display for the first time. Exposition includes outstanding works such as Sea Landscape (Evening) (1855, LNMA), View of Mount Vesuvius Before the Eruption (1885, Art Museum of Estonia), A.S. Pushkin on the Black Sea Coast (1897, Odessa Fine Arts Museum), and others. Among them visitors will also see the landscape Fog on the Sea (1884, LNMA), which author gifted to Riga after his solo exhibition in 1886. The display is supplemented with 5 ship models from the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.

Text by Ksenija Rudzīte

Ksenija Rudzīte
, Curator of the Foreign Painting Collection, Art Museum RIGA BOURSE /
Latvian National Museum of Art
Ph: (+371) 67 357532, E:

TWITTER: @MuzejsRigaBirza
INSTAGRAM: @makslasmuzejsrigasbirza

Art Museum RIGA BOURSE / Doma laukums 6, Riga, Latvia


Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays 10.00–18.00, ticket office 10.00–17.45
Fridays 10.00–20.00, ticket office 10.00–19.45
Closed on Mondays

The museum is closed on all public holidays: 1 January, Good Friday, Easter, Midsummer Eve and Day (23–24 June), Christmas (25–26 December), 31 December.


Reduced individual admission fee for groups of 10 or more people.
Free admission for the person in charge of the group.

Adults: 3,50 EUR
Schoolchildren, students, seniors: 2,00 EUR
Family ticket (1–2 adults with 1–4 children or family having many children): 5,00–7,00 EUR
Free admission for LNMA Annual ticket holders.

Free entry is also for: pre-school children; orphans or children not under parental care (valid status identification card required); children with a disability up to 18 years, 1st and 2nd group disabled persons (valid status identification card required) and one person accompanying either a child with a disability up to 18 years or a 1st or 2nd group disabled person; pupils of Latvian art schools or professional secondary art schools (valid status identification card required); full-time students of the Art Academy of Latvia (valid status identification card required); students attending institutions of professional secondary education or colleges who are studying or receiving training in visual or applied art, design, cultural history, museology, architecture, restoration as part of their studies or training (on submission of a written application to the museum director at least one day earlier); employees of Latvian museums (valid status identification card required); members of the International Council of Museums (ICOM, valid status membership card required); members of the Latvian Artists’ Union (valid status identification card required); Friend of the LNMA card holders; media representatives who are covering museum events (valid status identification card required); group (no less than 10 persons) leaders – guides or teachers; everyone on the international event Museum Night from 19.00; all visitors to the permanent display on the last Sunday of every month and on International Museum Day – 18th May.

Press release prepared by:
Natalie Suyunshalieva
Head of Press
The Latvian National Museum of Art
Ph: (+371) 67 357527