The Little Mermaid. Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid

Statue in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid Photo © Faye Walkington

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The Little Mermaid

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The Little Mermaid
	@ Copenhagen
The Little Mermaid @ Copenhagen. Photo by X. Tan
While visiting the beautiful city of Copenhagen, one mustn't leave without paying a visit to the famous bronze statue, The Little Mermaid.

This 1.2 meter beauty was created based on the famous tale written in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid”. This tale gained popularity and was soon turned into a ballet, which was shown numerous times at the Royal Danish Ballet Theater in Copenhagen.

Sculptor Edvard Eriksen (Wikipedia Article) was commissioned by Carlsberg Brewery owner, Carls Jacobsen, in 1909 to create this beautiful piece of art after Jacobsen attended the ballet and fell in love with the story.

Although many people would be more familiar with the Disney animated film version about mermaid princess Ariel, the original tale differs greatly, and doesn't offer the typical happy ending that we know and love so well.

This famous tale is about a mermaid who swims to the surface every day, perches herself upon a rock in hopes of catching a glimpse of the human prince that she has fallen in love with. The little mermaid desperately wants to become human so she can join the prince on land. She visits the sea witch and asks for legs, which she is only granted in return for her tongue which boasted the most beautiful of voices among all the mermaids. The little mermaid agrees, as she so desperately desired to be on land to make the prince fall in love with her.

As Disney's version ends with the mermaid and her prince marrying and living happily ever after, Andersen's version ends in heartbreak as the little mermaid dies of a broken heart and dissolves into sea foam, when her beloved prince marries another woman.

The bronze mermaid was originally supposed to be created in the likeness of ballet star, Ellen Price, however after refusing to pose in the nude for Eriksen, he turned to his wife, Eline Eriksen, for inspiration. You may notice the beautiful face of his statues are all similar, as he frequently used his wife as his muse.

The twin-tailed statue was gifted to the city of Copenhagen by Jacobsen, and erected on August 23, 1913 at the Langelinie promenade, amongst the beautiful background of the harbor, in the city of Copenhagen.

 - The Little
The Little Mermaid. Photo by Armin Rodler
In 2010, The Little Mermaid was moved for her first time in 96 years, to be showcased in the Danish pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai, China, where over 73 million people attended. Although Danish officials were hesitant to move the 175 kg icon of their city, they were quickly convinced upon learning that many of the children in China grew up with the story of The Little Mermaid as part of their education, and were told all would be mesmerized by her beauty.

She served as the main focal point for the contemporary-styled Danish pavilion, and was perched on her rock surrounded by a blue pool of water, where the crowds could admire from every angle.

For the six months that she was away from Copenhagen, a video installation stood in her usual place, where visitors could watch a live broadcast of her placement in Shanghai. After the expo, she was safely returned home, and has not been moved since.

	- The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid. Photo by Wieland Van Dijk
Aside from being moved across the world, The Little Mermaid has endured and experienced various damage throughout her years. Since the mid 1960s, vandals and political activists have caused great damage to the statue. She had paint dumped on her, her arm sawn off, and was even decapitated!

In 1964, the statue's original head was sawn off by vandals, and sadly has never been recovered still to this day. A new head was produced and placed back onto the statue, which was later sawn off again in 1998. The culprits were never found, however the head was mysteriously returned to a nearby TV station, and was later reattached.

Copenhagen officials have considered moving the mermaid farther out into the water to be less accessible to vandals, however she still remains in her original location among the rocks on shore today, and still occasionally sees minor graffiti from time to time.

She has been lovingly restored throughout the years based on her thirteen copies found around the world in Romania, Brazil, United States, Spain, China, and the Virgin Islands. Although she boasts the largest size of all her copies, she is still quite small and unimposing, which comes as a surprise to many people upon first glance. According to Andersen's will, she is to remain the largest of her kind.

She is located, about 15-20 minute walk, from Copenhagen's buzzing Nyhavn, or New Haven. As you approach, you will see she is surrounded by crowds of people, as tourists flock to her beauty in hopes of a good photo with her. Based on your balance and ability to hop rocks, you can actually get right beside her, and even touch her. Many small versions of her are sold in tents around the area as a memento as she remains one of the most beautiful symbols of, not only Copenhagen, but of all of Denmark.

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Author: Kadie Hummel. Last updated: Feb 02, 2015

Pictures of The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid. Photo by Avda-berlin


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