Monday, February 14, 2011

Hakop Hovnatanian

                                          Yakov Ovnatamov, 1830s-1840s

The painter was born in Tifiis into a family of artists and died in Teheran, Iran. He took lessons of painting from his father, Mkrtum Hovnatanian. He lived in Tifiis until 1881 and painted mainly portraits. In the portrait reproduced here the schematic decorativeness of Hovnatanian's earlier works has already given way to psychological realism.

Sushanik Nadiryan Portrait's , 1850


The Armenian modern painting era commenced with Hakop Hovnatanian (1806-1881) favorite son of the Hovnatanian family masters and monopolists of the Armenian miniaturists dynasty in the nineteenth century. Called in the West and in the East “The Raphael of Tiflis”. Miniature is one of those primordial forms of medieval way of thinking in art with universal, human and artistic values and upon which canons were extensively elaborated for numerous centuries. Referring to Hakop Hovnatanian is simultaneously referring to the members of the Hovnatanian as a whole. An illustrious family which produced splendid frescoes that occupy a place of honor and pride in eastern Armenia churches and majestic cathedrals and painted portraits of well to do Armenians displayed in museums in Yerevan and Tiflis.The illustrious Hovnatanyan family was under the auspices of Naghash Hovnatan (1661-1722), the venerated and well-known poet, illustrator and painter. He was the patriarch of the family by all means. While his grandson Hovnatan Hovnatanian (1730-1801) was in charge of the immense panel paintings of Etchmiadzin, Hakob Hovnatanian , his son was responsible for pioneering and perfecting the art of portraiture. A craft the family practiced for years and passed it on to its grand children. Their clientele consisted of the wealthy and the upper class Armenian families including the bourgeoisie of cosmopolitan Tiflis in the second half of the nineteenth century. During all the nineteenth century, the majority of Armenian artists, with the exception of Hakob Hovnathanian received their training and learn the trade on the hand of Russian artists and teachers in St. Petersburg, Paris, Munich and other European art academies.


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