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Views, US Virgin Islands, Danish West Indies, E. Baerentzen, Set of 4 Antique Prints, Copenhagen, 1856

$2,400

Hansems, F.G. Melby and Captain P. Seidelin (after)
A. Nay and E. Westerberg (lithographers)
Cruxbay. (St. Jan.) [Cruz Bay, St. John]
Parti ved Frederikssted. (St. Croix.) [View at Frederiksted, St. Croix]
Parti af St. Thomas. [View of St. Thomas]
St. Thomas. (Parti af Byen og Havnen.) [St. Thomas. View of the City and the Harbor]

Emilius Baerentzen & Cos., Copenhagen: 1856
Tinted lithographs
11 x 14.25 inches, overall, each
$2,400, set of 4

A set of four mid 19th century lithographic views of what are now the U.S. Virgin Islands, but were then the Danish West Indies. These images were published by Emilius Ditlev Baerentzen in 1856 as part of Danmark, a lithographic tour of the Danish empire, and are among the very few pictures of these places from such an early date. Slavery had been abolished there eight years prior. In 1917, Saint Thomas, Saint John, and St. Croix were purchased from Denmark by the United States as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during World War I.

Product description continues below.

Description

Cruxbay shows the harbor of Cruz Bay on the island of St. John. In the center, horseback riders approach a two-story building with smoke coming out of the chimney. A flag flies beside it, and cannons point toward the bay in the background. A boat is pulling up to the shore. In the foreground, a dark-skinned worker walks down the path with a donkey carrying a load on its back, and goats rest on the rocks among lush tropical plants. Today, Cruz Bay is the main town on the island.

Parti ved Frederikssted [Party at Frederiksted] shows a peaceful scene of five men in a rowboat on placid waters, four rowing and one trawling for fish with a long net. Behind them, herders have brought cattle to cool off in the water on the beach beside a Danish fort. In the distance are mountains with scattered palm trees. Frederiksted is a small port town on the western side of St. Croix.

Parti af St. Thomas shows the buildings of the town from an elevated vantage point. They are rendered with attention to architectural detail down to shutters and porch railings. Pedestrians and a cart with a horse are on the roads and boats are in the water. In the background is the harbor and gently rounded hills. The publication credit states it was drawn after a daguerreotype, which accounts for the precision of the rendering.

St. Thomas (Parti af Byen og Havnen) is also a highly detailed view from an elevated vantage point drawn after a daguerreotype. It shows a small portion of the city surrounding the St. Thomas Reformed Church, a large Roman style building with four columns, constructed in 1844. In the middle distance, numerous clipper ships are anchored in the placid waters of the harbor, and near the horizon, smoke rises from an early steamship.

Emilius Ditlev Baerentzen (1799-1868), also known as Emil Baerentzen, was a Danish portrait painter and lithographer, active during the “Golden Age” of Danish painting, in the first half of the 19th century. As a young man, he worked in the government offices on the island of St. Croix in the West Indies for five years. Upon returning to Denmark and qualifying as a lawyer, he then entered the Danish Academy in 1821 to study painting, and received financial support for a foreign trip. During the 1830s and 1840s, he was one of the most sought after portrait painters in Denmark, and was commissioned by performing artists, composers, authors, politicians and members of the upper middle class. In 1837, he took up the relatively new printmaking method of lithography and founded Emilius Baerentzen & Cos. He continued working as a lithographer and artist until 1866 and died two years later. Baerentzen had a special interest in theater, and was the subject of a major retrospective and catalog of his portraiture by the Teatermuseet in Hofteatret (Theater Museum at the Court Theater), Copenhagen, in 2014.

Full publication information: Cruxbay: F.G. Melby pinx. A. Nay lith. Em. Baerentzen & Co. lith Inst. Em. Baerentzen & Cos. Forlag, eneberettiget. Parti ved Frederikssted: Capt. P. Seidelin del. E. Westerberg lith. Em. Baerentzen & Co. lith. Inst. Em. Baerentzen & Cos. Forlag, eneberettiget. Parti af St. Thomas and St. Thomas: Efter H. Hansems Daguerreotyp, lith af A. Nay. Em. Baerentzen & Co. lith Inst. Em. Baerentzen & Cos. Forlag, eneberettiget.

Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified with minor remaining toning and wear, very light scattered foxing and toning from former matting in margins.

References:

Crain, Edward E. Historic Architecture in the Caribbean Islands. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994. p. 216, fig. 398. Online at UF Digital Library of the Caribbean: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00004342/00001/258?search=st.+Thomas (12 July 2018).

“Emil Baerentzen.” Wikipedia. 18 March 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_B%C3%A6rentzen (12 July 2018).

“Emilius Baerentzen.” Teatermuseet in Hofteatret. 2014. http://www.teatermuseet.dk/content/emilius-b%C3%A6rentzen (12 July 2018).

Additional information

Century

19th Century