Antonio Nicolo Gasparo Jacobsen (November 2, 1850 – February 2, 1921) was a Danish-born American maritime artist known as the “Audubon of Steam Vessels”.
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 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.