Oil on Canvas: 50" x 41"
After three takings of the Danish frigate Høienhald on the waters of the cold frozen Copenhagen harbor, the Danes re-took and held the frigate and their cherished harbor from the Swedes.
As the sun rises and reveals the carnage of the battle between the Danes and the Swedes, we see a ship in ruins atop the frozen waters of the Copenhagen harbor. The front foreground of the composition is strewn with rifles, footprints, blood, swords and wounded and dead men. The gray skies are clearing and the morning sun shines through the clouds and past the frost-bitten city-scape of old Copenhagen. To the right the Brewing House, and old Clothes House; to the left the grand Copenhagen Castle.
Waving their colors, the Danes make their final charge from the right, as the Swedes begin to flee to the left. Those left fighting on the devastated ship fire their rifles and cannons in their last efforts to win back what was seized.
Painted as a decoration for Capt. Næsers villa in Ordrup, Mølsted has illustrated the end of the violent battle on February 11, 1659. The desperate and hectic movement of the figures and the strong diagonals of the masts and lines give this piece a heavy dramatic effect. The cool gray and blue palette offers a chill to the viewer – enhancing the experience of the subject matter.
Artist: Christian Ferdinand Andreas Mølsted (1862-1930)
Positions & Appointments:
Taught and inspired by Dragørs ship makers and artists Peder N. Foss and Henrik Stromberg, Christian Mølsted was predominantly known as a seascape and marine painter. As a young artist, Mølsted was mainly inspired by his home town of Dragør, harbors, and local sea traffic. The opening of the National Museum of Art and History at the Fredericksborg castle was an awakening of sorts for him and many other artists at that time. It was the beginning of his venture into the realm of national marine history. He became a member of the National Association of Art and contributed to the castle’s collection with his now famous painting On board the Neils Juel at the Battle of Helgoland (1864). This was one of the many loved dramatic depictions of Danish historical events contributed to the castle.
Among many of the artist’s favorite subjects were the heroic battles of captains “Thundershield” and “Willemoes”. Historical accuracy, as well as detailed ship information, was provided for the paintings by Otto Dorge, a Dragør local expert. Mølsted saw many commissions from the state of Denmark. Among his numerous famous works is a marine painting used in the official 1922 Danish Christmas stamp.
Christian Mølsted used sketches and/or pastels on paper in preparation for works he would later execute with oils. His mastery of large paintings of grandeur is evident in his surviving works.
Christian Mølsted was universally loved and adored for his tremendous talent and ability to bring things to life with realist techniques and historical detail. Always motivated by perfection and the fact that he was often contributing to Denmark’s National Museum of Art and History, Mølsted created many influential and inspiring works of art not only for his country, but for his followers, and considered the responsibility a great honor.