“The Storm on the Sea of Azov in April 1886” was painted by Ivan Aivazovsky in 1887 on the basis of the real event that took place in April 1886. Cargo vessel “Yastreb” (“Hawk”) sunk during the storm on the Sea of Azov. 

“By request of the ROPiT (Russian Steam Navigation and Trading Company), cargo vessel named “Yastreb” (“Hawk”) was constructed at the “A. Leslie & Co.” shipyard, Newcastle (England), and on February 19, 1868 it was handed over to the customer. Odessa became its registry port. The cargo vessel was used to transport cargos between the ports of the Sea of Azov. On May 30, 1886 proceeding with the mixed cargo on board en route from Odessa to Mariupol, 60 miles away from the Belosarai Light Tower in the Sea of Azov, the cargo steamship “Yastreb” broke in half during the storm and sank”. 

Only one sailor of the whole crew (known by the name Yaremchenko) survived the ship wreckage. He tied himself to the mast and stayed on it for two days and a half. He was picked up by a passing merchant ship. 

Impressed by the tragedy, Ivan Aivazovsky painted a large-sized canvas in unprecedentedly short period. “The News and the Stock Exchange Newspaper” (January 25, 1887) reported: “... one canvas was painted by Aivazovsky just two days before the exhibition, it was “The Storm on the Sea of Azov in April (May) 1886”. 

The artwork from the collection of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus was purchased from Lidia Ruslanova (1900–1973) a famous singer, the Merited Artist of the RSFSR in 1962. Earlier, “The Storm on the Sea of Azov ...” was stored in the collection of Vladimir Rusanov, the Arctic Region’s explorer (St. Petersburg). Lidia Ruslanova has amassed a large collection of paintings (more than 130 artworks by the brush of Russian artists), in which there were the paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky, Viktor Vasnetsov, Vasily Vereshchagin, Mikhail Vrubel, Ivan Kramskoy, Isaac Levitan, Boris Kustodiev, Filipp Malyavin, Konstantin Makovsky, Mikhail Nesterov, Ilya Repin, Vasily Polenov, Vasily Surikov, Pavel Fedotov, Vasily Tropinin, Valentin Serov, and Ivan Shishkin, and many other outstanding painters as well. “Do not be surprised! They [canvases] help me to sing and cheer me up! As a singer I’m singing about these fields, these forests and rivers, these women… ”, – Ruslanova said about her favorite painters. In general, the Museum has purchased 34 paintings from the collection of Lidia Ruslanova in the period from 1956 to 1968, four of which were of Ivan Aivazovsky’s brush. 

For the first time the “The Storm on the Sea of Azov ​​ ...” has been displayed at the Academic Exhibition in St. Petersburg, 1887, and since its acquisition it has been constantly exhibited at the museum exhibitions. 

There are two other variants of this theme painted by this famous marine painter. In addition to the canvas from the collection of our Museum there is a version called “Ship Wreckage” (1886), which is kept in the National Museum of Art of Romania (Bucharest). Another version of the painting called “Storm” (1886) is located in the Yaroslavl Art Museum.