The Little Mermaid (statue) in Copenhagen
The statue of The Little Mermaid sits on a rock in the harbour of the capital of Denmark. Based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and a major tourist attraction.
The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, who had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen's Royal Theatre and asked the primaballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue, which was unveiled on 23 August 1913. The statue's head was modelled after Price, but as the ballerina did not agree to model in the nude, the sculptor's wife Eline Eriksen was used for the body.
The relatively small size of the statue typically surprises tourists visiting Langelinie for the first time. The Little Mermaid statue is only 1.25 metres high and weighs around 175 kg.
There are similarities between the Little Mermaid statue and the Pania of the Reef statue on the beachfront at Napier in New Zealand, and some similarities in the Little Mermaid and Pania tales. The statue of a (titled "Girl in a Wetsuit" by Elek Imredy) in Vancouver, Canada was placed there when, unable to obtain permission to reproduce the Copenhagen statue, Vancouver authorities selected a modern version.
The Copenhagen City Council decided to move the statue to Shanghai at the Danish Pavilion for the duration of the Expo 2010 (from May to October), the first time it had been moved from its perch since it was installed almost a century earlier.
Vandalism of the statue
This statue has been damaged and defaced many times since the mid-1960s for various reasons, but has each time been restored. In 2007, Copenhagen officials announced that the statue may be moved farther out in the harbour, as to avoid further vandalism and to prevent tourists from climbing onto it.
- April 24, 1964 – the statue's head was sawn off and stolen by politically oriented artists of the Situationist movement, amongst them Jørgen Nash. The head was never recovered and a new head was produced and placed on the statue.
- July 22, 1984 – her right arm was sawn off. The arm was returned two days later by two young vandals.
- 1990 – another attempt was made to cut her head off, which resulted in an 18 cm deep cut in the neck.
- January 6, 1998 – she was decapitated again, the culprits were never found, but the head was returned anonymously to a nearby TV station, and on 4 February the head was back on.
- Red paint has been thrown on her several times, including one episode in 1961 where her hair was painted red and a bra was painted on her.
- September 11, 2003 – the statue was blasted off its rock, possibly with dynamite.
- In 2004, it was draped in a burqa as a statement against Turkey joining the European Union.
- March 8, 2006 – a dildo was attached to the statue's hand, green paint was dumped over it, and the words March 8 were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism has something to do with International Women's Day (which is on March 8).
- March 3, 2007 – the statue was again covered with pink paint.
- May 2007 – the statue was covered with paint by vandals.
- May 20, 2007 – it was found draped in a Muslim dress and head scarf.
The statue displayed in Copenhagen harbour has always been a copy; the sculptor's heirs keep the original at an undisclosed location. Undamaged copies of the statue are located in Solvang, California; Kimballton, Iowa; Piatra Neamţ, Romania In several cases, cities have commissioned statues for the purpose.
- The Little Mermaid. Photo gallery from Denmark. Hans Christian Andersen Information
- Little Mermaid Statue thumbnail photo gallery, from Mermaids on the Web
- The Little Mermaid 360 degree Quicktime VR panorama from Copenhagen