ANTONIO JACOBSENDanish/American, 1850-1921
Antonio Nicolo Gaspara Jacobsen, foremost chronicler of American shipping in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, painted ships as they passed in and out of New York Harbor and out of the age of sail into the age of steam. Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1850, but came to New York City in 1871 to avoid being drafted into the Franco-Prussian War. Like many immigrants he spent his days in Battery Park looking for work, and would pause to sketch the ships in the harbor. From 1871 to 1880 he worked decorating the doors to safes for Marvin Safe Company. In 1880 he moved to West Hoboken, New Jersey, where he produced most of his work. Jacobsen began to receive commissions from ship owners and captains, and eventually steamship companies. The Old Dominion, Fall River, and White Star Steamship Lines, among others, commissioned him to create portraits of all the vessels in their fleets. Thus, Jacobsen quickly became one of America’s premier marine artists. With the help of his children, Jacobsen painted over 6,000 ships that came into New York City Harbor between 1894 and 1919. Jacobsen died in West Hoboken in 1921.