Niels Simonsen (1807-1885)

Nils Simonsen

“Barbary Pirates”

Oil on Canvas

27.6 x 32.7in (70x83cm)

Signed N Simonsen Munich 1844

The canon being brought into position on deck, signed and dated N. Simonsen Munich 1844, stamped on the reverse of the stretcher and inscribed private property of H.M. Emperor Francis Joseph, Friedrich von Boetticher, Malerwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts, Vol. II, 2, p.756 f. no. 3,4,5.

Provenance: Private property of Emperor Francis Joseph, Melanie von Habsburg, thence by descent.

Niels Simonsen was a student at the Academy in Copenhagen under J.L.Lund. He began his career as a sculptor and lithographer before training as a painter. After his studies he spent time in Munich, Algeria and Rome, before taking up a teaching post at the Academy in Copenhagen. He lived in Munich from 1834 to 1835. It was during this period that he made the first of many trips to North Africa, notably Algeria, where terrain and the cost line provided so much inspiration. He painted many scenes of vessels of the coast, favouring Arab pirates in their colourful costume as example shows to superb effect.

His works, most of which depicting pirates and scenes of the Schleswig-Holstein war, can be found today in museums such as Copenhagen, Aalborg and Munich, amongst others, as well as in the castles of Amalienborg and Rosenborg. He was one of the foremost Danish artists. He became a member of the Munich Academic followed by the Copenhagen Academy where he went on to teach as a professor.

In his academically constructed works such as this piece, the brilliant use of light, colour and movement of his animated figures, this is one of his most important paintings.

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