Oil on Canvas: 41" x 39"
*This piece is depicting the great and fearless Danish Captain Peter Wessel who started his career in the Danish fleet at age 15! He was eventually Enobled by the King of Denmark and came to be known by his famous nickname: Thundershield! “Thundershield” = “Tordenskjold” (in danish)
*On July 27th 1714, Towards the end of major conflict in the region, the Danes and the Swedes are in battle against each other. The Danish ship “Lovendals Galley” outfitted with only 18 canons have chased down a much larger Swedish ship outfitted with 28 canons. An intense battle ensues over a 24 hour period where both sides inflict major damage on each other. Realizing that they are almost out of gun powder, Peter Wessel sends a message to the swedish Captain that he unfortunately must let him pass this time because he has run out of gun powder. However, should the swedish captain want to come over and toast to a bravely fought battle, he should be very welcome. The swedish captain replies that he cannot, but should captain Wessel wish to come onboard the swedish ship, he should be very welcome. This offer was of course declined by Wessel.
However, they agree to adjust their speed and position so they can talk to each other under a temporary truce. Wessel then bodly asks the Swedish captain if he has any gun powder he can spare so they can continue the battle. The Swedish captain replies that he unfortunately only has enough for his own ship, but that he will “toast to his opponents good health”. Wessel then raises his glass and toasts the Swedish captain, followed by his crew yelling out a 7 hurray praise. Wessel then proclaims sarcastically that they will have to meet again when they have mended their ships and procured more gun powder.
Before sailing off, both captains tell each other to say “hello” to common friends in Goteborg and Copenhagen.
The Danes have run out of gun powder and are about to be destroyed. “Tordenskjold” hails the Swedish captain, and invites him over to toast a great battle, but the Swedish captain declines. “Tordenskojld” then says: “O.K. in that case could you lend me some more gun powder, and we’ll continue the battle shortly”!?! Again the request is denied, but the Swedish captain being impressed with the boldness and courageous nature of the request offers a toast, from his own ship, to the Danish captain for a courageous battle. They toast each other and the Swedes sail off without destroying or killing the Danes. The point of the battle had been made, and no further need for death and destruction was necessary. A truly great example of chivalry & Honor among men, seldom to be seen in today’s world.
* It has since been learned from a ship log record from the Swedish captain, that the Swedes were so surprised that wessels much smaller ship (and less canons) had attacked them. Even more so that they put up such a fierce fight, in fact so much, that the crew of the Swedish ship had said amongst themselves towards the end of the battle, that had the danes charged on board their ship, they would have given up.
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.