In 1836 Aivasovsky took part in training exercises of the Baltic Sea fleet on the advice of A. Sauerweid, his teacher in the battle-painting class of the Academy. Sauerweid hoped that the young artist would follow in his footsteps and become a specialist in sea battles. That same autumn his works appeared in the Academy exhibition. These student sketches show signs of outstanding talent and a mastery quite remarkable for someone in only his second year of training.
"Aivazovsky's pictures... reveal without a doubt that his talent will take him far. Study of nature will open up to him further treasures, whose existence his talent scarcely suspects at present..." Thus wrote The Art Gazette, noting the artist's "inherent poetic gift". One of Aivazovsky's early canvases, The Great Roads at Kronstadt, is reproduced in this album. Although the foreground of the picture with its naively drawn human figures recalls the old Dutch masters, the perspective has breadth and depth, with spray-soaked clouds receding into the distance. The waves seem fixed and motion less, but nevertheless Aivazovsky has somehow captured the specific character of the cold Baltic Sea.