After his parents, Johan Theodor Havsteen and Ella Holm-Jensen, divorced, Sven Havsteen-Mikkelsen was adopted by the polar explorer Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen, whom his mother married. After apprenticeships with silversmith Georg Jensen and some well-known Danish painters, he studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1930s. During WWII he was involved with the resistance in Denmark.
After voyages to the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, his post-war work was deeply rooted in the landscapes of the Nordic countries. He painted landscapes, portraits, and Biblical works and created many woodcuts, illustrating books on Nordic literature and an edition of Melville’s Moby Dick in 1955.
He also became interested in church decoration and sacred art from the 1950s for over forty years, eventually becoming a central figure for church decoration in Denmark, completing altarpieces, glass mosaics, paintings, crucifixes and stained-glass windows in some 60 Scandinavian churches. He often worked on the windows with his son, architect Alan Havsteen-Mikkelsen. In 1985, he designed the bronze gates to Frederik IX's Mausoleum adjacent to Roskilde Cathedral
He also executed an extensive series of Danish landscape postage stamp designs.
Due to the success of the Nordic Series medals for 1973, Anders Nyborg invited Havsteen-Mikkelsen to design and execute an expanded medal group for 1974 that would add Denmark and the Faroe Islands to Greenland and Iceland.
Havsteen-Mikkelsen received many awards for his work including the Eckersberg Medal in 1960 and the 1995 Thorvaldsen Medal, both awarded by the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts as its highest distinction for the visual arts.
He married Pamela Montgomerie (1909-1982) in London in 1936.
He died on the Danish island of Aero, where he had lived since the mid-1970s.
Contributed by Chrystopher J Spicer