The Armenian-Russian artist Ivan Aivazovsky completed a painting of a polar seascape entitled Ledyanyye gory [Ice mountains] in 1870. The picture has usually been taken for an Antarctic scene depicting HIMS Mirnyi, one of the two ships of the Russian Antarctic Expedition of 1819–1821, in the presence of icebergs, ice cliffs and floes. The author contends, first, that this identification is open to considerable doubt, and second, that other aspects of the painting are also problematic. The painting is in the Aivazovsky Museum in Ukraine. The Museum kindly supplied him with high resolution photographs of the painting but personal scrutiny has proved impossible hitherto. Further research, especially into Aivazovsky's papers, might resolve some of the questions which it raises.
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