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The Story of a Libertarian Book Cover

As I noted in H.C. Andersen Sculpture, the image at left accompanied my Mises Daily article “How We Come To Own Ourselves.” I just loved it. Someone at Mises chose it but when I inquired, no one could remember who had done it or where the picture came from.

I started trying to find out more about it. The image file name was something like “andersen father and son”, so some googling finally revealed this to be the work of  sculptor H.C. (Hendrik) Andersen. I have a libertarian book in the works—now entitled Legal Foundations of a Free Society—and thought a better picture of this statue might make good cover art for the book. I think it nicely evokes liberty, humanity, freedom, cooperation, love, the natural order, the whole bit. I see it as man becoming man, becoming a self-owner, a homesteader, a rights-bearer. And it’s classical yet modern, and beautiful.

I could not find any better pictures of this statue, but eventually found a few others (see below).


Turns out Anderson’s sculptures are in a special Andersen museum (2, 3) in Rome. I had my friend Roberta Modugno, an Italian scholar, contact the museum for me. She got me the basic info. I then had a Canadian lawyer friend, Daniel Roncari, who speaks Italian, translating for me as I communicated with the museum. Initially I tried to find out if I could purchase a photograph of the sculpture, but they had none. They provided me with a list of approved photographers, and with Roncari’s help I finally hired one. I first paid the museum a fee, then paid the photographer for his services. A few of the photos are below:


Anyway, it turns out the child is a girl, not a boy, and the official name of the sculpture is Nudo maschile con bambina sulle spalle (Male nude with girl on shoulders).

I then decided that instead of using the photograph itself for the cover, to get a stylized painting done based on it—similar in some respects to the style of the art on the cover of Rose Wilder Lane’s The Discovery of Freedom, which I had always liked. So I asked my good friend John Wax to do a painting for me. A few months later—it arrived in the mail. Now I’ve had it scanned—see below—and plan to use it for my book cover next year or maybe 2013.

John Wax’s Painting

Initial draft cover, by Susi Clark

Update (Oct. 2023): Legal Foundations of a Free Society has now been published. After consultation with my book designer (Susi Clark), I decided to go with a simpler cover, and move a faded version of the painting to the back cover. Final covers below.

Update: In May 2017, I visited Rome and my son and I were able to locate the Andersen museum. Some pix below.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Deanne Hollinger April 11, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Thanks for the very nice compliment on my illustration for “The Discovery of Freedom.” It’s pleasing to know that work completed so long ago is still appreciated.
    I’m still doing images to promote peace and freedom. If you’re interested, a few are posted on my website: http://libertariansavvy.com/liberty-art

  • Benjamin Marks July 4, 2011, 3:37 am

    I see it as more of a reference to the dwarf-standing-on-the-shoulders-of-a-giant-sees-more-than-the-giant metaphor, which would also work nicely for the book. Not that you’re a dwarf.

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