Jacobsen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark where he attended the Royal Academy of Design before heading across the Atlantic Ocean. He arrived in the United States in August 1873. He settled in West Hoboken, New Jersey (now Union City, New Jersey), across the Hudson River from Manhattan and New York Harbor, its port filled with ships from America and around the world. Jacobsen got his start painting pictures of ships on safes, and as his reputation grew, he was asked to do portraits of ships by their owners, captains and crew members, with many of his works sold for five dollars.
Jacobsen painted more than 6,000 portraits of sail and steam vessels, making him "the most prolific of marine artists". Many of his commissions came from sea captains, and Jacobsen was chosen both for the accuracy of his work and his low fee.
Exhibitions and collections
Exhibitions of Jacobsen's work include a 1996 showing of 45 of his paintings at the National Museum of American History. In 1995, the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia held an exhibition that included 80 paintings by Jacobsen. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum published a volume by Harold S. Sniffen, the museum's curator emeritus, whose biography titled Antonio Jacobsen's Painted Ships on Painted Oceans, includes some 100 color pictures of the artist's ship paintings.
The public rooms of The Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut, the oldest continuously run tavern in the United States, features the largest privately held collection of Jacobsen's paintings. John McMullen, a naval architect and marine engineer (and former owner of the New Jersey Devils), had a collection that included 75 paintings by Jacobsen, the first two of which were found in the 1940s in the offices of the family ship repair business.
On February 19, 2006, Fetching The Mark, an unsigned painting of the racing yacht Dreadnought attributed to Jacobsen, was sold at auction for $281,000, more than triple the highest price previously paid for one of Jacobsen's works. The piece had been brought to an Antiques Road Show event in Tampa, Florida, and had originally been thought to be a work of Jacobsen's contemporary James E. Buttersworth, until further research led to a conclusion that it was by Jacobsen.
Jacobsen and his wife Mary had three children; Carl, Helen and Alphonse.
County of Edinburgh on the Beach in the collection at The Mariners' Museum
Samar in New York Harbor in the collection at The Mariners' Museum
Pilot Schooner Fannie in the collection at The Mariners' Museum
Steamship Chicago City in the collection at The Mariners' Museum
- Fairbanks, Jonathan. "Marine Score", Forbes, March 8, 2006.
- Halasz, Piri. "Art: Maritime Theme at Exhibitions; Appeal of Nostalgia History and Humor Portraits of Vessels", The New York Times, January 21, 1973.
- Maddry, Larry. "Maritime Artist Finally Gets Brush with Success"[permanent dead link], The Virginian-Pilot, December 17, 1994. Accessed December 25, 2007. "That was understandable – the Danish-born American holds the distinction of being the most prolific of marine artists. Jacobsen documented thousands of sail and steam vessels that frequented New York Harbor between 1873 and 1919. It is believed that he painted more than 6,000 portraits."
- Falkenstein, Michelle, et al. "Jersey Footlights", The New York Times, June 1, 2003. Accessed December 25, 2007. "He won many commissions from sea captains, and may have made as many as 6,000 paintings in his lifetime, historians believe. As a painter of vessels, Jacobsen was the most prolific, and the cheapest, said Bob Foster, director of the Hoboken Historical Museum, which has a show of his paintings. The captains really loved his work. It was not a romanticized version – it was the way the ship really looked."
- Burchard, Hank. "Painted Ships On a Canvas Sea", The Washington Post, May 31, 1996. Accessed December 25, 2007. "The Maritime Hall is alight with 45 works by Antonio Jacobsen (1850–1921), our most prolific ship portraitist."
- Ryan, Bill. "Which Inn Is Older? Well, It Depends…", The New York Times, November 22, 1992. Accessed December 25, 2007. "The inn's public rooms make up a giant gallery for maritime paintings, including the largest private collection of the works of Antonio Jacobsen, a major painter of ships in the early part of this century."
- Hoboken Historical Museum, Online Collections Database;Antonio Jacobsen..Retrieved May 16, 2018
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- Works by or about Antonio Jacobsen in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- The Early Years – Exhibition of works painted between 1877 and 1898.
- The Later Years – Exhibition of works painted between 1902 and 1916.
- Antonio Jacobsen Bio - Findlay Galleries
- "USAT Sherman", oil on canvas, 1910-1915, by Antonio Jacobsen(sold at auction by GB Tate and Sons Fine Art, from the estate of Impressionist Emerson Everett Glass(1916-1987)..)
- Works by Antonio Jacobsen The Mariners' Museum
- portrait of Antonio Jacobsen
- wife and children of Antonio Jacobsen
- portrait of Jacobsen in later years
- Antonio Jacobsen-The Checklist. Compiled by Harold S. Sniffen, 1984. Sanford & Patricia Smith Galleries, Ltd.: New York, NY.