Hugo Vilfred Pedersen
Hugo Vilfred Pedersen Hugo Vilfred Pedersen

Hugo Vilfred Pedersen

Hugo Vilfred Pedersen

Hugo Vilfred Pedersen

1870 - 1959

Hugo Vilfred Pedersen

Danish artist Hugo Vilfred Pedersen was born on 25 January 1870 in Copenhagen, where he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts before heading to the East on painting expeditions.

Pedersen spent about twenty years travelling through Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, making copious paintings of the sights that he saw, and portraits of the important personages he met.

Pedersen’s older brother worked on a tobacco plantation in Sumatra, where he first arrived in 1898, travelling further to Penang, Java, and Siam. He painted many portraits of native subjects, which he clearly found interesting. These included a portrait of the ruler of Surakarta in Java, in whose palace Pedersen worked briefly, thanks to an introduction by the Dutch governor general of the colony. This portrait was subsequently presented as a token of the ruler’s loyalty to the Queen of the Netherlands; it continues to be a part of the Royal Dutch Collection.

Pedersen especially sought out the ordinary folk, painting portraits of liveried servants, guards and other support staff of the colonial empire who often lived in total obscurity. One such striking portrait is that of a Sikh bodyguard in the service of the Maharajah of Burdwan. Pedersen also painted a portrait of India’s Viceroy of the time, Lord Curzon, in 1903, which perhaps attests to his presence at the Delhi Durbar the same year.

Eight of Pedersen’s paintings were published in 1926 in Peeps at Many Lands, edited by J. F. Scheltema. The artist passed away on 4 May 1959.

'Pedersen became a much-favoured portraitist of both Indian and European rulers, which earned him the nickname "The Rajah Painter"'



notable collections

The Royal Collections of the Netherlands