Inverted daguerreotype. Here non-inverted.

The oldest, still existing photographic depiction of Hans Christian Andersen is this beautiful little daguerreotype at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense. Andersen is dressed to the nines in white tie and tails, impeccably coifed. Note that he purposefully put the decorative medal on his right lapel, which is wrong, because he knew that it would then appear in its proper place, the left lapel, in the finished daguerreotype, which produces a mirror image. The exposure time was several minutes, explaining the stiff posture. Nevertheless, Andersen appears to have a calm, almost dreamy facial expression. He could hardly have been conscious of looking a particular way.
Photo by: Ferdinand Petersen, Copenhagen, 1847.

Photograph on salted paper.

In the 1850s, paper photography in the English manner became popular throughout Europe. Andersen was photographed with the new method on a trip to Germany, where he posed for an unknown photographer in Dresden. This time, the result was less than fortunate. Andersen noted in his diary: "Monday 22 May. Drove out to be photographed, sat 3 times, looked like a peeled nutcracker."
Photo by: Unknown photographer, Dresden, 1854.

Two photographs cut out and affixed to paperboard.

These two searching studies of Hans Christian Andersens face were taken to serve as the original for a lithograph to be sold at large. This was even before trade in photographs took off in grand style. Andersen exerts himself to sit still during the long exposure. Nevertheless, one of them shows him with a very attentive and engaging smile, which is something of a rarity in these circumstances. (Black and white reproduction).
Photo by: Unknown photographer, Copenhagen, 1857.

Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich, 1860.

During his stay in Munich in 1860, Andersen was photographed twice by one of Europes leading photographers, Franz Hanfstaengl, who had asked him to sit for a work containing portraits of the greatest celebrities of the time. He captured the brilliant poetic genius in a magnificent, inspired portrait. Andersen, who had been rather nervous during the shot, was ecstatic with the result. On 3 August, he wrote to his good friend Edvard Collin: "Never have I seen such a beautiful and yet accurate portrait of me! I was completely taken aback, surprised that sunlight could form such a thing of beauty of my face. I am flattered and yet it is only a photograph. You will see, it is the only portrait my vanity desires to leave behind. Young ladies will say: Oh, that he never married!" Collin reported back that, in his opinion, the picture had some good aspects, "only the mien is unnecessarily provocative."
Photo by: Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich, 1860.

Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich, 1860.

With another portrait, Hanfstaengl demonstrated that he also had an eye for the dark side of Hans Christian Andersens mind. It is a portrait of the creator of the demonic masterwork The Shadow, who himself was tormented by the demons he described. Of this portrait, Andersen wrote that "it did not please me as well". Nor did it make a better impression upon his friend, Edvard Collin. The picture might be less typical as a picture of Andersens appearance, but it is still a masterful psychological portrait.
Photo by: Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich, 1860.

Composer Ravnkilde from his friend Hans Christian Andersen, Rome, 24 May 1861.

During the 1860's, carte-de-visite photography became the rage and Andersen made great use of them. The idea was that you were introduced by way of your picture, when you wanted to pay a visit. As a rule, they did not contain more than an ordinary portrait of the person, almost identical to the passport photos of our day. They were sold everywhere and became enormously popular as collectors items. Andersen found the first one sufficiently successful to use for just that purpose. It was taken in Geneva at the urging of a Swiss colleague, Henri Blanvalet. Andersen was no doubt easy to persuade.
Photo by: Francois Vuagnat, Geneva, 1860.

Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1860-61.

Georg E. Hansen became Hans Christian Andersens preferred photographer through the years and he was the first photographer to take carte-de-visite photographs of the author. In the beginning, various poses were tried. The first attempts were still quite tentative and could easily become too self-conscious or all too revealing of Andersens long arms and legs.
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1860-61.

Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1862.

Georg E. Hansen introduced a table into the composition for a balancing effect, but when he asked Andersen to lean against an ordinary, high-backed chair, it almost ended disastrously. On account of his height, Andersen had to bend preposterously far down and stand very awkwardly. He straightened up and gathered his coattails around the problematic legs. However, the overcoat and top hat, which were now added, were entirely in keeping with the idea of a carte-de-visite: One was photographed as if one stood at the entry, waiting to be shown in after the card has been borne to the master of the house.
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1862.

Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1862.

Finally, Georg E. Hansen thought of asking Andersen to sit down and support himself on the table in order to find a more natural, relaxed attitude. In a way, the pictures became more and more beautiful, but it ended with Andersen looking as though he were wretchedly bored. Not exactly the best way to introduce oneself.
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 1862.

Budtz Müller, Copenhagen 1863.

Carte-de-visite photography was still developing. Budtz Müller, who became Hans Christian Andersens second-favorite photographer in Copenhagen, equipped himself, for example, with a pastoral idyll in the form of a window shade backdrop and could now create the illusion of an outdoor wanderer, even though the forest floor was, in fact, made of linoleum.
Photo by: Budtz Müller, Copenhagen 1863.

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