Claus Bergen (1885 – 1964), best known for his depictions of naval warfare in both World Wars,
studied at the Munich Art Academy under Professor Carl von Marr. In the first three decades of the
century, Claus Bergen was numerous times represented at the Munich exhibitions in the Glaspalast.
In 1914 he was appointed Marine Painter to Kaiser Wilhelm II. In 1918 a presentation of his Skagerak-
battles and U-boats took place in the Glaspalast; for this successful exhibition, visited by King Ludwig
III at the opening, he was awarded the title of ‘Königliche Bayerischen Professor’.
Claus Bergen joined the NSDAP in 1922. In May 1929 Claus Bergen displayed his works in New York
where the Gainsborough Galleries organized the ‘Exhibition of Marine Paintings, by Claus Bergen’.
Bergen was represented in the German Pavillion at the Paris World Exhibition 1937, with ‘Ship
Launching’ and ‘Brandenburger Tor’; for one of these works, he received a Golden Medal. Fifteen of
his works appeared in the Great German Art Exhibitions, of which nine were bought by Hitler. ‘The
Atlantic Battlefield’ was displayed at the Venice Biennale 1942. Bergen was on the ‘Gotbegnadeten
In December 1946 U.S. Army Captain Gordon W. Gilkey organized the ‘German War Art’ exhibition in
the Städelmuseum in Frankfurt. A total of 103 artworks were shown, including Claus Bergen’s ‘Battle
of the Denmark Strait, 24 May 1941’ (GDK 1944).
Claus Bergen died in 1964 in Lenggries from paint poisoning.
The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, holds (illegally) ‘The Bombing of Almeria by the
Admiral Scheer’, 1937. This work by Bergen, commissioned by the Nazi’s, is de facto the counterpiece
to Guernica by Picasso.