ANDERSEN, Hans Christian (1805-1875). Original papercut design, intricately cut and depicting several popular motifs including ballet dancers, windmill men with heart-shaped windows, pierrots, Ole Lukoie or sandmen, flower garlands, palm trees, storks, and gnomes, SIGNED AND INSCRIBED BY ANDERSON and dated "1874." White paper laid-down over blue paper, 13 1/8 x 16½ in. (335 x 412 mm). (Separated along a few folds, old repairs on verso, some slight discoloration from original adhesive.) Matted and framed. Provenance: Mary Grant Cramer, ca 1839-1905, wife of Michael J. Cramer, the United States Ambassador to Denmark from 1870-1881, and sister of Ulysses S. Grant (presentation inscription from Andersen at top); by descent to the present owners.
A FINE PAPERCUT, BEAUTIFULLY RENDERED AND UNUSUALLY COMPLEX, INSCRIBED BY ANDERSEN in Danish to Mary Grant Cramer at the top of the sheet and signed by him at the bottom and dated in a different hand "June 1871." A popular art in the 19th-century, Hans Christian Andersen's talents in creating unusual and charming papercuts were well-known. Designed to serve as souvenirs from evenings spent engaged in story-telling and other amusements, Andersen would often present his creations to members of his audience. With both children and adults gathered round, he would begin a fairy tale and, at the same time, he would extract an enormous pair of scissors from the pocket of his overcoat and commence cutting. The audience would be riveted to both aspects of this performance; not only did they want to know the conclusion of his tale but they wanted to see how the piece of paper would be transformed. When he was finished, he would open up the paper to reveal his whimsical, curious, and, on occasion, grotesque designs. Usually the finished papercuts did not make reference to the tale he had just told, but rather simply served as a means for Andersen's imaginative expressions, as well as to amuse the recipients of these wonderful gifts. Although meant to be taken lightly, Hans Christian Andersen's delicate papercuts reflect the same creative talents he brought to his much-loved fairy-tales, poems, and novels. Accompanying this lot is a photocopy of a letter to Mary Grant Cramer from Andersen, dated 1 January 1875, written in Danish, in which he discusses the gift of this papercut to her. Hans Christian Andersen papercuts rarely appear at auction.