Vilhelm Pedersen

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Vilhelm Pedersen
Scene from the Battle of Eckernförde

Thomas Vilhelm Pedersen (28 January 1820 – 13 March 1859) was a Danish painter and illustrator who is above all remembered for his illustrations for fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. He was the first artist to illustrate Andersen's works. His drawings were converted into wood prints and used in the Danish and German editions.


Pedersen was born in Karlslunde. He initially followed in his father's footsteps and became an officer in the Royal Danish Navy. He was interested in drawing and in 1843 Christian VIII granted him four years' paid leave to enable him to pursuit an artistic career. He studied with Wilhelm Marstrand and enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He first exhibited his works 1847 but voluntarily returned to the army at the outbreak of the Three Year War. He participated in the Battle of Eckernförde, which he would later depict in two paintings. He then continued his interrupted naval career until his early death in 1859.[1]

Hans Christian Andersen illustrations[edit]

Andersen's earliest tales were published without illustrations, but in 1849, his popularity was growing and a new, five volume collection of his tales was published with 125 illustrations by Pedersen. The Pedersen illustrations found favor with the author, and, in Denmark today, are considered inseparable from the fairy tales in the same way that the John Tenniel illustrations are for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland or Quentin Blake illustrations are for Roald Dahl's children's books.

Woodcuts from Pedersen's drawings were first produced for a German edition of the tales published by Carl B. Lorck in Leipzig. Andersen's Danish publisher, C.A. Reitzel, paid Lorck for the rights to the Pedersen illustrations.

Private life[edit]

His sons Thorolf Pedersen [da] (1858-1942) and Viggo Pedersen [da] (1854-1926) were also painters.


  1. ^ "Vilhelm Pedersen". (in Danish). Retrieved 29 July 2016.

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