PORTRAIT GALLERY - BY HENRIK G. POULSEN


Budtz Müller, Copenhagen, 13 October 1867.

Hans Christian Andersen kept up a rather youthful appearance through the years. He retained, for the most part, the texture and color of his hair and his facial expression all his life. Gradually, however, age began to leave its marks even in Andersens face. Nor was it any secret that the hairdressers curling iron and "Bramsens dentures" made up for relative loss of hair and teeth. The lighting in the photographic studio and a retouching afterwards could soften or remedy other defects.
Photo by: Budtz Müller, Copenhagen, 13 October 1867.



Georg E. Hansen, Holsteinborg, 30 June 1870.

During his visit to Holsteinborg in the summer of 1870, Andersen was photographed in the manor's garden room. Andersens hosts had called on Georg E. Hansen from Copenhagen, and Countess Mimi Holstein-Holsteinborg arranged the tableaux. The harsh lighting from the side and the absence of a professional hair stylist were determining factors in this somewhat revealing shot. Later correspondence between the Countess and Andersen reveals that they were aware of the problem: "You can see how much it helped that we rumpled your hair!" wrote the countess. Andersen himself looked more soberly on the matter: "In Hansen's photograph, I saw my own portrait, somewhat thinning hair, flattened on my head, as after a bath, but the expression was good "I shall not give you one," said the photographer, "The Countess will undoubtedly send it to you." Does your Grace believe I dare hope for that?"
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Holsteinborg, 30 June 1870.



Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 27 June 1872.

Whether due to the signs of age or ordinary fatigue, Hans Christian Andersens visits to photographers began to wane. However, in the year 1872, his two favorite photographers in Copenhagen were to take part in the worlds fair in Vienna and both wanted to demonstrate their skills with the famous model. Andersen did not decline, even though his health had begun to deteriorate. "Thursday the 27th. Feel sleepy, tired and afflicted, but must once again go into town, as yesterday, to be curled and combed. Was with court photographer Hansen until a little past eleven. He took my portrait for the exhibition and yet another three portraits of me, which seem to have been successful."
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 27 June 1872.



Budtz Müller, Copenhagen, 15 October 1872.

"Wednesday the 15th. Sunny morning, later gray Sat for Budtz Müller for my portrait for the exhibition in Vienna. Feel afflicted, in an old body, bad headache." Shortly after this picture, Andersen came down with a liver ailment that had been developing, and a long, difficult convalescence followed.
Photo by: Budtz Müller, Copenhagen, 15 October 1872.



C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.

After his grave illness, Andersen was never entirely on his feet again and remained mostly confined thereafter to his two rooms at Nyhavn no. 18. And one might think that photography was out of the question from that point. However, photographic technique had developed so much that ordinary indoor pictures could be taken, and the photographer Weller took advantage of this, arranging to photograph the weak, aging writer at home.
Photo by: C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.



C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.

"Thursday the 21st. Walked a bit but grew very dizzy At one oclock, the photographer came and I sat for him until 3:30. The weather was dark and the light in my living room was not good. He took five shots of me in the surroundings of the room. The first was not entirely successful, but he was satisfied with the rest. I became so worn out, however, that I could not stand on my own two legs."
Photo by: C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.



C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.

Andersen received the photographs from Weller by mail and, on 27 May 1874, he commented on them in a letter: "I have received 5 different prints from Weller of the photographs he took of me in my living room; the surroundings stand out beautifully and give them a painterly aura, but I look very old, decrepit and toothless. One portrait is utterly horrible, the other four I can tolerate; for they, at least, look like me. I have certainly become old on the outside in the last year." Indeed, he did look old, decrepit and toothless and he would acknowledge this at least, as long as it resembled him. Nevertheless, Andersen shrank from giving these pictures away. They lacked something.
Photo by: C. Weller, Copenhagen, 21 May 1874.



Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 26 September 1874.

For a final time in September 1874, Hans Christian Andersen went to see a photographer: "Thursday the 24th. Went by omnibus to the photographer Hansen for whom I will sit on Saturday at 11 oclock. Saturday the 26th. Sunshine. Went at eleven oclock to royal photographer Hansen and, toothless as I am, was photographed in cabinet and simple card format Wednesday the 30th. ... Went to the square and rode the omnibus to photographer Hansen, where I received two beautiful portrait pictures of me as an old man." The photographs were supposed to be beautiful and, from Hansen, they were.
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 26 September 1874.



Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 26 September 1874.

And there he sits certainly, old and toothless, but with grace and dignity: he wanted to show that he was, at least, not so decrepit than he could not present himself with style here at the end. He presented a copy of this picture to one of his friends from the younger generation a few weeks before his death. On the back, one may read his last comment on a photograph: "Alt farer hen som Vinden, Her er ej blivende Sted. Snart svinder Rosen paa Kinden, Smilet - og Taarerne med. Hvorfor vĉre bedrĝvet? Hen farer Sorg og Fortrĉd. Alt farer hen som Vinden, Tiden og Mennesket med! Alt er Forsvinden - Forsvinden, Ungdom, dit Haab og din Ven. Alt farer hen som Vinden, Og kommer aldrig igjen. Min unge Ven Robert Henriques, en venlig Erindring. (All things rush like the wind, Nothing remains in place. The rose in the cheek will soon disappear, The smile as well as the tear. Why be downhearted? No more sorrow or regret. All things rush like the wind, Time as well as mankind! All things disappear disappear, Youth, your hope and your friend. All things rush like the wind, And never return again. My young friend Robert Henriques, A cordial remembrance.) H.C. Andersen 1875."
Photo by: Georg E. Hansen, Copenhagen, 26 September 1874.



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