• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2175

    Old Masters and 19th Century Art

    4 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 154

    Vilhelm Melbye (Melbinger 1824-1882 Roskilde)

    Shipping off Gibraltar

    Price Realised  


    Vilhelm Melbye (Melbinger 1824-1882 Roskilde)
    Shipping off Gibraltar
    signed and dated 'Vilhelm Melbye 1880' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    28½ x 46 in. (72.4 x 116.8 cm.)

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    Vilhelm Melbye's travels to the Mediterranean resulted in a number of paintings reflecting his great interest in almost sculptural natural formations. Evidently the Rock of Gibraltar left a deep imprint on Melbye, prompting him to paint the present highly evocative view the very year he was made Honorary Professor in Denmark.

    Artistic license has been used freely to exaggerate the closeness of the Atlas Mountains and thus emphasising Gibraltar's remarkable position as a Rock between two continents. Below the morning mist of the Rock we pick out faithfully rendered details of the Moorish Castle and The Great Siege Tunnels, monuments to the Rock's sometimes tumultuous history. As such, the present view stands as one of the finest examples of the artist's characteristic contribution to the Romantic marine genre.

    Having developed an international reputation, Melbye's work became highly sought after and widely collected, not least by Queen Victoria and the Danish kings. He exhibited extensively throughout his career not only at the Konstakademien at Charlottenborg in his native Denmark but also notably in London at the Royal Academy and the British Institution between 1853 and 1867, and at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878. Melbye received formal recognition when he became a member of the Konstakademien in Copenhagen in 1871, followed by the appointment as Honorary Professor in 1880.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note this painting will be included in the forthcoming Melbye catalogue raisonné being prepared by Regine Gerhardt.