An example of the latter, depicting a smiling jester wearing a Chinese-style hat, was sold by Copenhagen auction house Bruun Rasmussen in March. But on May 30, it will offer something much more exciting – one of the celebrated picture books that Andersen made for the children of his friends.
Decorated with more than 250 clippings from printed picture books, newspapers, illustrated travelogues, theatre posters, stamps, engravings, photographs, etc, it runs to 168 pages in all.
It also includes more than 25 of the paper cuts that HCA was so fond of making.
The text is all in the writer’s hand, and the half cloth original binding was also made by Andersen.
The lucky recipient of this scrapbook – on her third birthday, in 1869 – was Marie Henriques (d.1944), in whose family the writer was affectionately referred to as ‘Anders’. In the birthday letter that accompanied the picture book, Andersen wrote: “...Your mother [will?] read it for you, she is your best friend, your second friend is your father, your third is Andersen.”
In his diary, Andersen had in the autumn of the previous year written: “Began on a picture book for little Marie Henriques. I am cutting and gluing until late at night”, and a few days later, “... Pasting every day. At the Melchior and Henriques homes the grown-ups are very intrigued by the picture book for little Marie.”
The story he produced concerns little Marie’s ‘Grand Tour’ around the world with her trusty but strict nanny, Sidse. Full of verses and comments and a host of colourful illustrations, the work sees Marie and Sidse encounter all sorts of people and travel through many countries .
Marie wants to begin at the North Pole and see the Northern Lights, but if it gets too cold, she says, they will move on to warmer countries. Two solitary ladies travelling abroad, however, might easily fall into danger, so Sidse dresses as a watchman to safeguard little Marie.
During the latter part of his life, in the years 1850-70, Andersen created several such picture books, either working alone or with friends, and today 19 examples are recorded.
Marie Henriques’ picture book is among the nine that Andersen made on his own, and it has never been never published or previously offered for sale. It is in fact the last of Andersen’s picture books still in private ownership.
As an adult Marie became a painter and visited many of the countries that Andersen had taken her to in his picture book birthday gift.
Offered by a descendant, it is both one of the last such works that he made and is regarded by the saleroom as one of the finest.
It is valued at DKr1m-1.5m.