Collection / Armenian



More than 4000 drawings, pastels, book illustrations, caricatures, and posters of about 250 Armenian painters form the core of the graphic collection of the Museum. The roots of Armenian drawing go back to the illumination of medieval Armenian manuscripts. Aside from the history of the origin of drawing, it is worth mentioning that unlike painting the formation of Armenian drawing as a separate form of art took place in the nineteenth century. The value of the Armenian collection is determined not only by the high artistic level of the majority of the exhibits but also by its representation of almost all stages of the development of the Armenian graphical school. Represented are the main genres prevailing in Armenia from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century.

The earliest drawings are by the famous painter of the seascapes Hovhannes Aivazovsky (1817-1900) whose work belongs both to Armenian and Russian cultures.

In the 19th century in Constantinopolis lived and worked Constantinople a great master of drawing, portraitist Melkon Tiratsuyan (1837-1904).

The Armenian art of the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries is characterized by the growing number of artists who were aducated in Russia, Europe, and the cultural centre of Transcaucasia,Tiflis. Some of those artists did not return to their motherland. New themes and genres appeared in drawing: landscape (also architectural), and scenes of everyday life. While portrait and book illustration continued developing, new forms such as poster and stage design appeared.

The portrait genre, which previously was only found in the genre of painting, also developed in drawing.This can be seen in the works of Stepan Aghajanyan (1863-1940), Panos Terlemezian (1865-1941), Yenovk Nazariants (1868-1928), Hmayak Hakobian (1871-1939) and Davit Okroyants (1874-1943). The further development of Armenian drawing was greatly stimulated by Vardges Sureniants (1860-1921), who worked in almost all genres. His book and magazine illustrations, scenery cartoons, portraits, and posters are collected in the Gallery. Landscape predominates in the works of Gevorg Bashinjaghian (1857-1925), Harutyun Shamshinian (1856-1914), Hmayak Hakobian (1871-1939) and Sedrak Arakelian (1884-1942). Besides landscapes, Harutyun Shamshinian (1856-1914) also drew scenes of everyday life; he was the first among the Armenian painters to depict common people. Similar themes found their lively expression in the district work of the graphic artist Vano Khojabekian (1857-1922).

Architectural landscape is represented by the masterly water-colours of Arshak Fetvajian (1866-1947), as well as in the works of a later artist, sculptor Stepan Tarian (1899-1954).I

An outstanding figure in Armenian drawing is the French painter of Armenian origin Edgar Chahine, (1874-1947) whose etchings have won world-wide recognition. The French painters of Armenian origin Tigran Polad (1874-1950), Carzou (1907-2000), Jansem (1920), Arsen Shabanian (1864-1949) and others, too, worked using the techniques of etching and lithography.

The art of  the well-known American painter of Armenian origin Arshile Gorky (1904-1948) is a binding link between surrealism and abstract expressionism. One of his sketches of 1930 is the collection of the Museum.

In the first half of the twentieth century many Armenian painters living in various countries were afforded the opportunity to return to their motherland. This circumstance too stimulated the development of all graphic genres, trends, and drawing gradually became an independent branch of art.

In the 1920s and 1940s, owing to the historical events, much attention was paid to political caricature and posters.The following artists deserve a special mention: Levon Genchoghlian (1897-1974), Ashot Mamajanian (1908-1994), Mariam Aslamazian (1907-2006), and Eranuhi Aslamazian (1909-1998), Dmitri Nalbandian (1906-1993/4), Sargis Arutchyan (1920-2000) and others.

The graphic works by Hakop Gyurjian (1881-1948) and Yervand Kochar (1899-1979), characterized by plasticity of lines, original interpretation of characters, and a distinctive style, are among the most interesting pieces.

Bedros Kontradjian’s (1905-1965) legacy is the largest in the collection. It includes numerous figures of nude women, portraits, landscapes, and still lives drawn in pastel, pencil, and charcoal. The Gallery possess the elegant sanguine portraits by Nikolay Tevosian (1910-1957) drawn in the style of old European masters.

Among the other noteworthy possessions of the Gallery are the drawings and book illustrations by Martiros Sarian (1880-1972), Hakob Kojoyan (1883-1959), Tachat Khachvankian (1896-1940), Mikayel Arutchian (1897-1961), Shavarsh Hovhannisian (1908-1980), Sargis Aleksanian (1910-1942), Karapet Tiraturyan (1911-1975), Edward Isabekian (1914-2007), Grigor Khanjian (1926-2000) and Georgi Yaralyan (1927). In the works by Georgi Yakoulov (1884-1928) an attempt has been made to solve the spatial and temporal problems in the fine arts.
The archive of the Gallery also houses studies of sceneries by Martiros Sarian (1880-1972), Georgi Yakoulov (1884-1928), Mikayel Arutchian (1897-1961), Minas Avetisyan (1928-1975) and Gegham Asatryan (1920-1995).
In the 1970’s and 80’s easel drawing and book illustration formed an important part of the work of painters such as Vladimir Ayvazian (1915-1999), Karapet Gyokchakyan (1916-1999), Petros Malayan (1927-1999), Vahram Khachikyan (1923-2002), Arkadi Petrosyan (1933), Rudolf Khachatryan (1937-2007), Henrik Mamyan (1934), Andranik Kilikyan (1937-2005), Ara Baghdasaryan (1940), Gastello Gasparyan (1941), Ruben Ghevondyan (1942) and many others.