Database of Armenian photo-media practioners

Arshak Abrahami Fetvadjian

1861 - 1947

1900 - 1910s

After his studies at the Constantinople Fine Arts College (1887-91) and then the Fine Arts Academy of Rome, Arshak Fetvadjian moved between Europe, Russia, Armenia and, at the end of his life, various cities in the USA. He specialised in historical and architectural painting and, along with Vardges Surenyants, wasone ofthe first modern, Armenian artist-designers. In 1900 he made his inaugural visit to Eastern Armenia, where he created around 2000 drawings and watercolours depicting Armenian architectural monuments. Of particular significance are his copies of the monuments in Ani’ and its environs, which are of immense documentary value today.

Fetvadjian was a witness to the immediate consequences of the Armenian Genocide and reflected episodes of this tragic catastrophe in his works. As an official artist of the first Armenian Republic, he created the designs of government-commissioned stamps and paper money. Forced into exile with the invasion of the Red Army into Armenia, he spent the last twenty-five years of his life in the USA, making fruitless attempts to return to homeland. Fetvadjian willed his entire artistic legacy to the government of Soviet Armenia and it is currently housed at the National Gallery of Armenia, along with the artist’s rich archive.

During his years spent in the Caucasus and Eastern Armenia, Fetvadjian also took up the photo camera, as an auxiliary tool in documenting architectural monuments and sites. Only a few of those photographs have survived in the artist’s archive. Among those, a group of portraits of Genocide survivors stands out. Here, Fetvadjian transcended the demands of documentation, making entirely dramatic visual compositions, the aesthetic qualities of which are self-evident. This particular branch of the artist’s practice requires more sustained, in-depth research and study.(1)

1) For full details of Fetvadjian’s life and practice see the materials noted in the bibliography.

2) The artist’s works have been exhibited many times before and after his death. However, none of his photographs was ever shown, thus the list of these exhibitions is not included here.


American, Armenian


USA, Armenia, Ottoman Empire


Trabzon, Constantinople, Tiflis, Ani, Boston


artistic, amateur photography, documentary


analogue photography


Chemenyan, Gohar. Arshak Fetvadjian: Mshakutayin Eghernits Prkvats Tchartarapetakan Masunnkner, [Arshak Fetvadjian: Architectural Relics Saved from Cultural Genocide, in Armenian], National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan, 2015 

Chemenyan, Gohar. Arshak Fetvadjian: Geghankar, Grafika [Arshak Fetvadjian: Painting, Graphics, in Armenian], National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan, 2008 

Choogaszyan, Levon. Arshak Fetvadjian, Printinfo, Yerevan, 2011

Ter-Manuelyan, A. Nkarich Arshak Fetvadjian [Painter Arshak Fetvadjian, in Armenian], Beirut, 1966

Fetvadjian, Arshak. Im Mtkery [My Thoughts, in Armenian], Boston, 1941


National Gallery of Armenia, Yerevan

Other images by this author