Andreas Martin Andersen, “Hendrik Andersen and John Briggs Potter in Florence”, 1894, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions Unknown, Hendrik Andersen Museum, Rome
Born in August of 1869 in Bergen, the historic site of Norway’s first coronation, painter Andreas Martin Andersen was the first son of parents Anders Andersen and Helene Monsine Monsen. His younger brother, the sculptor Hendrik Christian Andersen, was born in April of 1872, also in Bergen. In 1873, the family emigrated to the United States and settled in Newport, Rhode Island.
Beginning in 1889, Andreas Andersen studied at Cowles Art School in Boston. Three years later after receiving a scholarship, he studied painting at the Académie Julian in Paris under painter and sculptor Jean-Paul Laurens, a major exponent of the French Academic style, and Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, painter and etcher known for his Oriental subjects and portraits. During his stay in Paris, Andersen shared the studio with his American friend Howard G. Cushing, the son of an illustrious and wealthy family with residences in Newport and Boston.
Andersen also became good friends with the painter John Briggs Potter, another student at the Académie Julian. In 1894, Hendrik Andersen joined his brother in Paris. The three Americans traveled together through Europe and explored the many Italian cities, including Florence. “Hendrik Andersen and John Briggs Potter in Florence”, was painted in 1894 by Andreas Andersen during the last year of their grand European tour as a final proof to be sent back to Boston. He portrayed his brother and friend Potter as they woke up in the bohemian interior of the Florentine house in Via San Zanobi near Piazza Indipendenza where the three companions had taken up residence.
Early in his academic stay in Paris, Andreas Andersen began dating Olivia Cushing who was Howard’s sister and, at that time, residing in Paris. By 1892, they had developed a strong loving bond. Upon his return to the United States at the end of 1894, Andersen settled in the Boston area and began painting. A talented painter, his exceptional early success was partly influenced by Olivia Cushing’s friendships with many wealthy citizens of the area. One of Andersen’s most important patrons was Isabella Stewart Gardner. Born to a wealthy family and a collector of rare books. Gardner supported many artists, including John Singer Sargent and dancer Ruth St, Denis. Over his career, Andersen painted over thirty portraits and a dozen landscapes, as well as a series of drawings with academic studies of nudes.
Andreas Andersen married Olivia Cushing in January of 1902. Stricken with tuberculosis, he was ill at the time of their marriage and died a year later in February of 1902. Many of Andersen’s works are housed in private collections and in the Hendrik Andersen Museum in Rome.
In 1903, Olivia Cushing Andersen left Boston to join her brother-in-law Hendrik Andersen in Rome. A cultural woman of great sensitivity and author of allegorical dramas with historical and biblical themes, she was Hendrik’s muse and also in part the financier of his grandiose sculptural and urban projects. Until her death in Rome in December of 1917, she was the passionate expounder of Andreas and Hendrik’s work in her unpublished diaries. These diaries are now preserved in the historical archive of the Hendrik Andersen Museum in Rome.
Top Insert Image: Andreas Martin Andersen, “Dionysus Torso at Fenway Court”, 1902, Oil on Canvas, 57 x 36 cm, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Bottom Insert Image: Andreas Martin Andersen, “Portrait of Olivia Cushing Andersen”, Circa 1895, Oil on Canvas, Dimensions Unknown