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Jacobsen, Antonio

(1850-1921) Antonio Jacobsen is one of America’s foremost marine painters. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to a family of violin makers and was himself an accomplished string player. To avoid being drafted into the Franco-Prussian War he emigrated to New York City in 1871. He sketched ships in the harbor area of Battery Park, where his work was noticed by owners of the Marvin Safe Company, who hired him to decorate safes. Later he was commissioned by the Old Dominion Line, the Fall River Line, and the White Star Line to paint their fleets; he also received commissions from the Clyde Line, Black Ball Line, Mallory Line, Anchor Line, and the Red Star Line, as well as independent ship captains and owners. Jacobsen remained in New York City until 1880 when he moved to Hoboken, New Jersey, where his home was a gathering place for marine artists including James Bard, Fred Cozzens, Fred Pansing, James Buttersworth, Worden Wood, Albert Bishop, and Ward Stanton. Jacobsen’s painting style is often characterized by a “flat” or primitive or folk quality, rendered with great skill, a complete understanding of ships, and accuracy of detail. Two of his children, Helen and Carl, who became a painter in his own right, assisted with the painting of skies and water on some of the later canvases. Though Jacobsen made a successful living painting for steamer lines, he suffered a decline in finances toward the end of his life. However, even when lithographs became a popular form of disseminating art, he resisted attempts to capitalize on his work by having it reproduced. It is estimated that during his lifetime Jacobsen executed approximately 6,000 paintings. He frequently painted multiple versions of a vessel, the painting varying in size or ground. Jacobsen’s paintings are an invaluable visual and artistic record of international ships during the great transition from the age of sail to the age of steam.

Title: Blackball Liner, Columbia
Medium: Oil on board; SLR & dated 1917, 14" x 19"


Title: Mt. Hope
Medium: oil/artist board; SLR & dated 1902, 22" x 36" sight


Title: Reynard (the fox)
Medium: oil on artist board, signed lower right, dated 1909, original frame 22" x 36"