Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid is arguably the world’s most famous mermaid statue. It captures the wistfulness and beauty of these legendary beings in a setting so captivating that it attracts millions of visitors every year. Come with us as we explore 4 interesting facts about this iconic work of art.
Between Literature and Ballet
The sculpture shows a mermaid as imagined by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen in his famous tale The Little Mermaid.
However, the inspiration to create the sculpture came from the ballet version of Andersen’s tale. When beer impresario Carl Jacobsen watched a performance of the ballet at the Royal Danish Theatre, he knew that he had to share that beauty with his fellow citizens.
A Special Gift
Jacobsen decided to commission a mermaid statue as a gift to Copenhagen and chose sculptor Edvard Eriksen to bring his vision to reality.
While the head of the sculpture is modeled after that of Ellen Price, the ballerina who performed the role of the Little Mermaid at the Royal Danish Theatre, the model for the body was the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen.
The Little Mermaid was unveiled to the public on August 23, 1913. Nowadays Carl Jacobsen’s gift to Copenhagen is a national symbol of Denmark and an icon of beauty.
Being a symbol has its drawbacks, and on more than one occasion the Little Mermaid has been subject to vandalism.
Over the course of several years, the sculpture has lost limbs a couple of times, has been knocked off its pedestal and also has been sprayed with paint. With endless patience, the Danish government comes to the rescue every time, restoring the Little Mermaid to its original state.
The Little Mermaid became so popular that many cities commissioned copies of the statue. Some examples include a reproduction at the Copenhagen airport, another one in Seoul, and at least half a dozen in the United States.
In addition to these copies, there are many other sculptures that are not exactly identical to the Little Mermaid but were inspired by it. That’s how a man’s gift to his city turned into a global trend that spreads joy and beauty everywhere.
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