Now regarded as one of the greatest of the Armenian artists, Panos Terlemezian was born in the town of Van-Aygestan in Western Armenia in 1865. His family was simple farmers but the young Panos was determined to be educated and move away from this rural community. He received his primary education in the Van Central College, graduating with honors and at first pursuing a career as a teacher. In his early twenties he developed a keen interest in fine art and commenced producing a series of sketches, drawings and paintings around his native country. Coupled with his love for the arts was a strong sense of patriotism which would result in a number of arrests for his beliefs whilst still a young man. Despite these hardships he continued to study art and embarked on a number of long sojourns to France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Estonia. Armenia had few centers of fine art and in 1895, in order to perfect his painting technique he moved to St. Petersburg to attend a school of the fine arts. In 1899 he chose to finish his studies in Paris, here he enrolled at the Academie Julian where he received oil painting instruction from two of France’s most prominent teachers, Jean-Joseph Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens who would teach him the fundamentals of the academic style of painting. He would remain in Paris until 1904 when he returned to his native country to establish a studio. 1905 found him traveling again, this time to Italy, Turkey, France and Greece producing some stunning landscapes and portraits along the way. Although a frequent traveler abroad, Terlemezian was above all an Armenian artist who was devoted to his country, particularly the area around Van. In 1908 he painted a portrait of the famous Armenian preist Vartapet Komitas and that same year arguably his most famous landscape entitled ‘Mount Sipan from Ktuts Island’ now housed at the National Gallery of Armenia. As a young man he had distinguished himself fighting against the Sultans government and probably as a result of his obvious patriotism he was elected in 1909 as mayor of Van. Surviving the horrors of the Armenian Genocide he continued his artistic pursuits and between 1915 and 1917 he was Chairman of the Armenian Artists Association in Tiflis and it was around this time that his style adopted a more Impressionist look moving away from the rigors of his formal academic training. He returned to Constantinople in 1919 and in 1920 started a lengthy tour of France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the United States. He returned to Armenia for the final time in 1928 settling in the town of Yerevan where he would remain until his death in 1941. The Art School of Yerevan was open in 1921 but after Terlemezian’s death in 1941 it was renamed the Panos Terlemezian College.
This recently rediscovered work by the Armenian painter Panos Terlemezian is an important addition to his oeuvre and may well be the only American view to exist. Painted in 1926 this rapid, yet extremely clever, plein-air work was clearly painted on the spot and shows Panos Terlemezian at his most confident. The color palette he has used is similar to that utilized by him in many of his important Armenian compositions preferring cool grays, blues and subtle autumnal colors over the harsher palette used in his earlier works. Although the view is unknown it is very likely to be the Connecticut shoreline as the reverse bears a panel makers stamp from S.B. Bishop of 107 Main St., Norwich, Ct.
Perhaps the most intriguing item revealed on the reverse of this painting is the inscription A Torossian with an address of 1800 San Lorenzo Drive, Berkeley (see seperate notes). It is easy to draw the conclusion that as Terlemezian and Torossian were almost identical in age and had been born in the same town in Armenia they would have some connection. It is quite possible that Terlemezian would have visited Torossian whilst in the United States and perhaps painted this work as a gift for his fellow countryman.