Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 104

CARL DAHL
    ‒   
 .
The Frigate “Thetis,” a Danish Naval Brig and a Brig Under
American Flag off the Coast of Gibraltar
(early

s)
(Fregatten “Thetis,” dansk orlogsbrig og brig under amerikansk flag ud for Gibraltar)
Oil on canvas,
⅓
x
½
in. (

x

cm)
Not signed nor inscribed
       :
Bruun Rasmussen, Vejle, Auction

,

, lot

, ill.
F
or this marine painting, Carl Dahl chose the waters near Gibraltar, the huge mountain in southern Spain
opposite the town of Tangier on the African coast. The Straits of Gibraltar have a great strategic impor-
tance, as this narrow passage is the only one connecting the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean. Since

, Gibraltar has been a colony of the British crown, and so it remains today.
In

, the artist took his first trip on a Danish man-of-war, traveling from Denmark to Lisbon in
Portugal, where he depicted some American frigates in the waters outside the harbor. The journey went
farther south, and it is believed that this painting is a result of studies he made on board.
The dominant feature of the painting is the tall Danish frigate “Thetis” seen from backboard aft. A fresh
northeastern wind fills its brown sails as it makes its way to the Atlantic Ocean following some other ships,
which are seen at a distance. It has just passed a brig sailing under the American flag and heading for
the Mediterranean. The full starboard side of this brig is visible, and the sunlight and shadow in the curv-
ing white sails are beautifully rendered. The wind is rather strong and there is white spindrift on the water
surface.
The horizon in the painting is fairly low, permitting us to see the ships clearly against the sky. The paint-
ing technique and colors chosen are much influenced by C. W. Eckersberg, especially the dark green water
and the huge clouds giving life to the motif. In the distance between the two main ships the cliffs of Gibral-
tar add a dramatic note to the motif, contrasting with the lower coastline of Spain at either side.
The frigate “Thetis” was built in Copenhagen in

, measuring

x

feet. It served during the
Second Schleswig War and ended its service the same year,

, being cut up ten years later. It did not sail
in the Mediterranean before

, so obviously Dahl has painted this Gibraltar sea scene after returning
home, using sketches made while at sea. The artist had studied nature closely and learned how to make use
of his sketch material so well, that he conveys the idea of tall speedy vessels on a fresh windy day in the
Straits of Gibraltar.
E.F.

]
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