Antonio Jacobsen - The Later Years
Click on a painting below to start the exhibition
An American ClipperAntonio JacobsenAn American Clipper The MiamiAntonio JacobsenThe Miami The Rescue of the Gate CityAntonio JacobsenThe Rescue of the Gate City
The Pilot Boat New JerseyAntonio JacobsenThe Pilot Boat New Jersey The LarchmontAntonio JacobsenThe Larchmont The SS BUNKER HILLAntonio JacobsenThe SS BUNKER HILL
The ZeelandAntonio JacobsenThe Zeeland The OceanaAntonio JacobsenThe Oceana The OrleanianAntonio JacobsenThe Orleanian
Off Sandy HookAntonio JacobsenOff Sandy Hook The ClaraAntonio JacobsenThe Clara The PennsylvaniaAntonio JacobsenThe Pennsylvania
The CereaAntonio JacobsenThe Cerea The ConcordAntonio JacobsenThe Concord The Extreme Clipper Ship Young AmericaAntonio JacobsenThe Extreme Clipper Ship Young America
The Jeremiah ThorntonAntonio JacobsenThe Jeremiah Thornton Yacht RaceAntonio JacobsenYacht Race  


Antonio Jacobsen, America's folk art hero recognized for his unsurpassed contributions to America's maritime history, recorded domestic and international ships as they passed through the age of sail to steam. He was a prolific painter and throughout his life it is believed that he painted some 6000 paintings.

Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 2, 1850, where for generations his family had been violin makers. His father encouraged him to practice a similar craft and at an early age he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Design in Copenhagen. Reversed family fortunes forced him to withdraw and at the age of 18, when it was compulsory for him to join the Danish military forces, he decided to sail for America.

He left his family behind and arrived in New York in the early 1870's. Like many other immigrants, he went to New York City's Battery Park looking for work. He passed his days sketching the ships that sailed in and out of the harbor. It wasn’t long before a representative from Marvin Safe Company noticed his drawings and offered him a job decorating safes. His ability as an artist was further recognized as he began to receive commissions from sea captains and ship owners, and eventually Steamship companies, to record their entire fleet. The Old Dominion Line, The Fall River Line and The White Star Line are some of the steamship companies that commissioned him to paint portraits of all the ship in their respective fleets.

In addition, the Clyde Line, the Black Ball Line, the Mallory Line, the Anchor Line and Red Star Line also sought his services. The notoriety that Jacobsen received from all these commissions helped establish him as the foremost chronicler of American shipping in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The following exhibition focuses in on the artist’s work after 1900 – when over half of his works were produced. The ensuing excerpt is from the introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition: Antonio Jacobsen – His Last Years 1897-1921, that took place in our gallery in 1990 and was written by the late Harold Sniffen. "Consider the subject matter presented here. Classifications of ships include transatlantic liners and coastwise passenger and freight steamers. Among the sailing vessels we find packet ships and clippers (painted retrospectively of course)… a late full-rigged ship…and a yachting scene.

Critics of Jacobsen’s style cite a lack of variety in his work. In this exhibition, however, we see not just broadsides of ships at sea, but some examples of perspective as well. In addition harbor backgrounds, a shipwreck scene, …steamships with auxiliary sails, and hulls of different colors can be found.

The viewer will note relatively few paintings done on canvas. This is because, after 1900, he started painting on academy board. By about 1906 he was using board almost exclusively. This change had an effect on his style, as board allowed him to use more pressure with his brush, making a smoother painted surface and allowing for finer detail.

[Jacobsen] seemed to have known that he would never be a good artist without ships to use as models – and the port of New York would never lack for models. In this fertile ground he had his chance to become the good marine artist that he was." Jacobsen died in Newark, New Jersey in 1921.

We trust you will enjoy the exhibition and look forward to presenting a similar one on the artist’s early works later this year. As always, please remember that the gallery handled all of the works shown here and none are available for sale. Please check our Online Inventory for currently available works.

Works by Antonio Jacobsen can be seem in the following public collections (partial listing):

  • Bath Maritime Museum, Bath, ME.
  • Bergen Maritime Museum, Norway
  • City of Liverpool Museum, Liverpool, England
  • Fall River Historical Society, Fall River, MA .
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, LA.
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA.
  • New York Historical Society, New York
  • Peabody Museum, Salem, MA.
  • Philadelphia Maritime Museum, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, R.I.
  • Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT.
  • Ships of the Sea Museum, Savannah, GA.
  • Staten Island Historical Society, Staten Island, N.Y.
  • The Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, VA.

This essay is copyrighted by Rehs Galleries, Inc. and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Rehs Galleries, Inc.