01 December 2010

Finding a Lost Illustrator of Andersen

At the American Antiquarian Society’s Past Is Present blog, Laura Wasowicz describes how she identified the artist who produced this lithograph to illustrate an 1873 Boston edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Match-Girl.”

The trail led from the initials “S.G.P.” through two libraries, one misspelling, and the personal correspondence of the publisher. At the end was an upper-class woman, twenty-two years old, who undertook this illustration “to contribute something in aid of the Children’s Hospital.”

Or at least that’s how the publisher presented the situation to Andersen. Clearly, however, Sarah Gooll Putnam had serious artistic ambitions, and she painted portraits throughout her life. But because she was (a) female, and (b) too rich to have to work, she was seen as a talented amateur.

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