Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991, Armenia became the first of the fifteen federated states to declare its independence. Periodicals, newspapers, and journals heralded the newfound freedom while literature, poetry, and religious works (long forbidden in Soviet Armenia), once more began to appear in print. Currently the presses are actively publishing a variety of high-quality materials. This painting shows the Mkhitarists receiving English poet Lord Byron (1788–1824) at their monastery on the island of San Lazzaro, where he studied Armenian. It appears in a trilingual exploration of the life and works of the eighteenth-century Armenian painter Hovhannes (Ivan) Ayvazovski (1817–1900), who is renowned for his seascapes as well as his Armenian-themed paintings.