Hans Christian Andersen (1805 - 1875)

Christines Bilderbuch

Hans Christian Andersen und Großvater Drewsen

(Christines' Picture Book)

Hans Christian Andersen and Grandfather Drewsen

Transl. from Danish into German by Barbara Blezinger
Edition and afterword by Erik Dal,
Reinbek b. Hamburg, Carlsen 1984
[122] fol., XIV p., color illustrations throughout
31 x 24,5 cm, linen cloth covers, dust jacket
(first facsimile edition of the original)

Original title: Christines Billedbog

"He could tell the most beautiful stories and cut out such funny pictures..." (From: Little Ida’s flowers)
The book and its history

This large-format book was a collaborative present for the third birthday of Adolph Drewsen's granddaughter, Christine Stampe, on October 30, 1859. Hans Christian Andersen and Adolph Drewsen cut out motifs from various printed materials, glued them onto strong sheets of paper, creating very different picture pages, and added verses by hand. They then had the more than 120 sheets elaborately bound in leather. The two friends found the picture material in illustrated magazines, advertising prints or yearbooks and in the then very popular broadsheets from France and Germany. This approach resulted in random, associative picture collages long before artists discovered this montage technique in the 20th century. Many cut-outs depict animals and plants, but they also show sceneries of a wide range of areas of life.

In this first printed edition of "Christine's Picture Book", the left page of each double spread offers transcriptions of the handwritten texts, along with a German translation and a detailed commentary by Erik Dal, the editor and eminent Danish Andersen scholar responsible for the five-volume critical edition of the fairy tales.

The album owes its existence to the long-standing friendship of Hans Christian Andersen and Adolph Drewsen. Adolph Drewsen married a daughter of the Collin family, who were close friends of Andersen's since his early Copenhagen days. Together, they created three picture books, one for each of Drewsen's granddaughters, Rigmor, Astrid, and Christine. In most cases, it is not possible to attribute authorship clearly to either of the two friends. According to Dal, various motifs such as theater programs or lush flower tendrils and various animal figures clearly match Andersen's preferences. The text is mostly handwritten by Drewsen, but the rhymes could well be by Hans Christian Andersen. The provenance of five mostly large-format silhouettes (folios 11,18, 59, 80, 91) seems clear, however. Folio 18 shows a troll figure on a wheel surrounded by swans, one of Andersen's favorite motifs. Drewsen probably wrote into the figure: "The creator of this man is Hans Christian Andersen, friend of the children." In the corners of the sheet a small, colorful tin soldier figure is glued, a reference to Andersen's fairy tale of the The Steadfast Tin Soldier. As a kind of half title, the facsimile edition is preceded by a quotation from Andersen's fairy tale "Godfather's Picture Book" from 1868, in which he probably describes himself writing children's albums and telling stories.

Hans Christian Andersen referred to his pictorial works as "Paper poetry" (Jens Andersen, p. 647) which follows the same principle as his stories. The analyses of biographer Jens Andersen establish for the first time the relationship between text and image design. He characterizes the fairy tale "Aunty Toothache" as a literary collage in which different layers of texts and poems are interwoven. "You paint when you speak", the aunt comments the young student's/poet's way of storytelling, which perfectly applies to Andersen himself (HCA GA P.705) Jens Andersen considers the "collages of words and images" as a constitutive element of Andersen's work and emphasizes the narrative character of his picture book collages. The accompanying verses are never "mere interpretations", but serve to encourage the young viewers to engage actively with the pictures (p.653). "For a collage artist as child-friendly as he was, it was absolutely necessary that the young addressee of the picture book himself became a contributing and co-creating force". In the picture book for granddaughter Astrid, it is particularly clear to see how very different picture sections are placed in front of the child, seemingly randomly, similar to a pile of building blocks: "Of Italy's nature/ I offer you a little trace/ Here is a cactus, there are tendrils, / Put them together in your mind.”

Biographical note

H.C. Andersen, born 1805 in Odense, died 1875 in Copenhagen. The Danish poet became world-famous with his 156 literary fairy tales, many of which continue to be published in about 80 languages and with many new illustrations. Less well known are Andersen's novels and poems or his pictorial works, drawings, silhouettes, and collages. Among them are also unique originals of picture books for children. According to the biographer Jens Andersen, sixteen picture books are known, but it can be assumed that others have existed.
Andersen, who never took drawing lessons, first began to make pencil sketches and later visually recorded his travel impressions in sketch books. Between 1830 and 1833, Andersen created two picture books for Otto Christian Zinck, son of the composer and choir master at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Ludvig Zinck, who was about six years old at the time. Beginning in the 1850s Andersen worked on what he himself called Agnete literature. There are five unbound notebooks for Agnete Lind. She was the daughter of Louise Collin, married Lind, whom he had met and worshipped at the home of Jonas Collin, his fatherly friend and patron. Four of the originals are at the Hans Christian Andersen House in Odense, as are the two books for Otto Christian Zinck.
At the time Andersen perfected his silhouette skills to the highest level as a means of social entertainment. When visiting his numerous hosts at home and abroad, he used to accompany his stories with papers and a large pair of scissors in his hands, to not only entertain his listeners but also, as Kjeld Heltoft (p.102) suspects, in order not to bore himself. On the other hand, the silhouettes and collages, with their ever-new forms, also inspired his artistic imagination, his inventiveness and his storytelling.




Jens Andersen, Hans Christian Andersen. Eine Biographie
Aus dem Dän. von Ulrich Sonnenberg, Frankfurt und Leipzig: Insel, 2005


Kjeld Heltoft, Hans Christian Andersen als bildender Künstler
Kopenhagen : Rosenkilde & Bagger,1980


Hans Christian Andersen. Sämtliche Märchen in zwei Bänden

Aus dem Dän. von Thyra Dohrenburg, mit Ill. von Vilhelm Pedersen und Lorenz Frolich

München, Winkler, o.J.


Hans Christian Andersen. Poet mit Feder und Schere.
Anne Buschhoff, Detlef Stein (Hrsg.) Köln: Wienand, 2018
Katalog zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung in der Kunsthalle Bremen

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