The prolonged controversy between Prussia and Denmark over control of the region of Jutland between the Elbe River and the Danish border resulted in a war that lasted from 1848 until 1850. With his trademark attention to detail, J.E.C. Petersen has portrayed in this work an exciting vision of action in the North sea as an unarmed brigantine raises the flag of West Prussia, identifying herself to the fleet of Prussian warships engaged in battle with Danish vessels off the Jutland Peninsula.
The small Baltic trader is most likely a supply and dispatch vessel for the Prussian fleet. A seaman scrambles aloft to begin shortening sail as a frigate approaches from downwind, her jib, royals and starboard stuns’ls being lowered as she prepares to rendezvous to receive dispatches and resupply before rejoining the battle.
Focusing the action along the painting’s centerline, the Danish born Petersen has created a colorful narrative of 19th century warfare at sea. A softly banded sky progresses from cerulean blue at the top into muted cloud patterns that drift behind the vessels and accent their detail. White, wind driven waves dance across a dark foreground sea, resulting in a sense of motion and realistic perspective to further enhance the composition’s appeal.
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