H.P. Hansen's drawing from 1854

Portraits of Søren Kierkegaard


Stik. W ?, Acc.-- Neg. 2123.

H.P. Hansen (1829-99).“There lives, wrote Kierkegaard in 1854, “ no one so clever that he would be able to invent a form of cleverness that my police eye would not immediately see, and that my cleverness can not make obvious as a prank.” This sounds impressive, but is not completely right. H.P. Hansen’s drawing is in two ways a “prank” that escaped Kierkegaard’s “police eye.” In his flat H.P. Hansen sat ready with pencil and paper when Kierkegaard marched past and thus fixed the unaware “police spy” for later ages. Most of the hatbrim and its upper side are visible, so H.P. Hansen probably caught the figure from a window on the ground floor or the first storey. It is clear that Kierkegaard wore off his delicate aesthetic look as the years past, aging as early as he did, but the little smile at the corners of the mouth, just as sad as satirical, is still there.
Frithiof Brandt writes, of this mouth and the man to whom it belonged: “On H.P.Hansen’s picture the mouth has subsided into peace, become mild and sensitive, almost muzzle-like in its resignation, that of a flute player in the orchestra, one might think.” In that case one must think something else. The Kierkegaard seen here caused, in that very same year, an earsplitting thunderclap when he stormed against the Danish Church.

Based on the catalogue of the exhibit "Kierkegaard. The Secret Note", The Round Tower, Copenhagen, May 6 - June 9, 1996, arranged under the auspices of The Søren Kierkegaard Research Center by Niels Jørgen Cappelørn and The Søren Kierkegaard Society by Joakim Garff. The portraits shown here are all from the Photograph and Print Collection of the Royal Library, and are in some cases prints based on the original drawings. W. = Westergaard, Danske Portrætter i Kobberstik, Litorgrafi og Træsnit.