Where Is the Little Mermaid?
The famous bronze statue of the Little Mermaid, carved by Edvard Eriksen, is posed on a rock near the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen Harbor, Denmark. It is 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb). The small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since it’s unveiling in 1913.
She is the heroine of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale about a mermaid who falls in love with a prince and who sacrifices her tongue to exchange her fish tail for human legs. Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75) was born in Odense, Denmark. When he was 14, he went to Copenhagen to try to be an actor or opera singer. He was not successful and turned to writing, but failed in that, too.
However, a friend who had faith in his talent persuaded the King of Denmark to grant him a pension, so that he could continue his education and travel to other countries. Soon afterwards he began to write poems, plays, novels and travel books that sold well. Nowadays these are all forgotten, and the world remembers him for his fairy tales which appeared in 1835. Today they are published in more than 60 languages.
Mermaid is among iconic statues that symbolize cities; others include: Manneken Pis in Brussels, the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In several cases, cities have commissioned statues for such a purpose, such as with Singapore’s Merlion.
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 ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue, which was unveiled on August 23, 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 Copenhagen City Council arranged to move the statue to Shanghai at the Danish Pavilion for the duration of the Expo 2010 (May to October), the first time it had been moved officially from its perch since it was installed almost a century earlier. While the statue was away in Shanghai an authorised copy was displayed on a rock in the lake in Copenhagen’s nearby Tivoli Gardens.
Copenhagen officials have considered moving the statue several meters out into the harbour to discourage vandalism and to prevent tourists from climbing onto it, but as of May 2014 the statue remains on dry land at the water side at Langelinie.