Hugo Vilfred Pedersen (Danish 1870-1959)
Portrait of a man from Ceylon
Signed l.r.: Hugo VP, oil on canvas board, in an antique hardwood frame
23 x 17.5 cm; 9 x 6 7/8 inches
Frame size 42 x 35 cm.; 16 ½ x 13 ¾ inches
H. V. Pedersen, ‘Door den Oost-Indische archipel’, 1902, ill. p. 122
This sitter is described in the artist’s book of 1902 as someone who worked for the Sultan of Deli in Medan, North Sumatra, at his annual party. It is a rare depiction of a servant portrayed with great sensitivity.
Pedersen was born in Copenhagen in 1870. Having studied at the Academy of Arts in Copenhagen he travelled for 20 years in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Penang and Singapore. His older brother worked on a tobacco plantation in Sumatra and in 1898 he first visited Indonesia, travelling to Sumatra, Penang, Singapore, Java and Siam. He painted many portraits of native subjects which he clearly found interesting on his travels as well as landscapes and cityscapes. He worked for the Susuhunan (ruler) of Surakarta in Java, whose kraton or palace Von Pedersen visited (thanks to the Dutch Governor General) and whose portrait he painted and was subsequently given as a token of the Susuhunan’s loyalty to the Queen of the Netherlands. It is now in the Royal Dutch Collection.
Eight of the artists’ paintings were published in 1926 in "Peeps at many lands" ed. by J.F. Scheltema.