Poems by Hans Christian Andersen
In Queen Caroline Amalie’s library a number of handwritten poems by prominent Danish poets of the time once lay between the many books. These include Adam Oehlenschläger, B.S. Ingemann, Carsten Hauch, H.P. Holst and N.F.S. Grundtvig, and – not least – Hans Christian Andersen.
As can be seen from her library, the Queen was interested in contemporary literature, and held, particularly after being widowed, literary salons in Christian VIII’s Palace. On Tuesdays a small number of invited guests met for readings and discussion, and it is without doubt from these gatherings that some of the poems found their way onto the shelves. Other poems are marked with place and date, from which it can be seen that they were written, for example, in Sorgenfri Palace, where Christian VIII and Caroline Amalie also counted the cultural personalities of the day among their guests.
Eight handwritten poems by Hans Christian Andersen are to be found in Caroline Amalie’s library. Several have been printed, either in the poet’s own lifetime or in later editions of his works, diaries and almanacs. Most of the poems stem from a stay with the royal family at the home of the Duke of Augustenburg, the queen’s brother, on the island of Föhr in 1844, and one of them from the journey on the steamship Kiel, which was the royal yacht at the time. Andersen entertained them with improvisations, composed off the top of his head, often on request.
Dance Scene from Tahiti
Painted by Nicolai Abildgaard, who led the renovation of the palace after the royal assumption of it. An almost identical motif is to be found in the English explorer James Cook’s travel journal, “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean” from 1768-71, which inspired Abildgaard to paint this dance scene. Motifs from the great voyages of discovery were a popular form of decoration at the end of the 18th Century.
Hans Andersen’s Ruler
The ruler is made of wood and decorated with paper cut-outs by Hans Christian Andersen. The decoration is a silhouette cut-out which amongst other things represents female figures with parasols dancing around a swan, and Ole Lukøje, Andersen’s fairytale character also known as Mr Sandman, with an umbrella. The famous author had a particular talent for paper cut-outs and happily entertained large gatherings with his stories at the same time as visualising them using paper and scissors. After having finished the story, he unfolded the paper cut-out and revealed a little artwork. This ruler was further decorated with dried leaves, of which one is still preserved. On the back of the ruler Andersen has written the little rhyme, ‘In every leaf is magic. A living soul sits within it.’ The text is dated 1872 and completes the ruler as an example of the author’s multiple talents for creating a story with many layers. The ruler was presumably a present from the artist to Christian IX, who kept it in his study at Amalienborg.