Den lille Havfrue
|Opening date||August 23, 1913|
The Little Mermaid (Danish: Den lille Havfrue) is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid becoming human. The sculpture is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark.[a] It is 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb).
Based on the 1837 fairy tale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913. In recent decades it has become a popular target for defacement by vandals and political activists.
Mermaid is among iconic statues that symbolize cities; others include: the statue of Pania of the Reef in Napier, Manneken Pis in Brussels, the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.
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 September 2022 the statue remains on dry land at the water side at Langelinie.
The statue has been damaged and defaced many times since the mid-1960s for various reasons, but has been restored each time.
On 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. On July 22, 1984, the right arm was sawn off and returned two days later by two young men. In 1990, an attempt to sever the statue's head left an 18 centimeters (7 in) deep cut in the neck.
On January 6, 1998, the statue was decapitated again; the culprits were never found, but the head was returned anonymously to a nearby television station, and reattached on February 4. On the night of September 10, 2003, the statue was knocked off its base with explosives and later found in the harbour's waters. Holes had been blasted in the mermaid's wrist and knee.
Paint has been poured on the statue several times, including one episode in 1963 and two in March and May 2007. On March 8, 2006, a dildo was attached to the statue's hand, green paint was dumped over it, and the date March 8 were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism was connected with International Women's Day, which is on March 8. The statue was found drenched in red paint on May 30, 2017 with the message "Danmark [sic] defend the whales of the Faroe Islands", a reference to whaling in the Faroe Islands (an autonomous country in the Kingdom of Denmark), written on the ground in front of the statue. About two weeks later, on June 14, the statue was drenched in blue and white paint. "Befri Abdulle" (Free Abdulle) was written in front of the statue, but it was unclear what this referred to at the time. Later, police said the writing was likely referring to Abdulle Ahmed, a Somalian refugee who has been detained in a high security unit in Denmark since 2001 due to a custody sentence. On 13 January 2020, "Free Hong Kong" was painted on the stone the statue is mounted on by supporters of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests. On 3 June 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement, the statue was vandalized with the words "racist fish" scrawled on its stone base, which left observers and specialists puzzled, as nothing related to the statue, H.C. Andersen or his fairy tale could be construed as racist.
Although not regarded as vandalism since no damage is done to the statue, people have also repeatedly dressed it, either for fun or to make more serious statements. In 2004, the statue was draped in a burqa in a protest against Turkey's application to join the European Union. In May 2007, it was again found draped in Muslim dress and a head scarf. Other examples are times where a Christmas hat has been put on the head, or it has been dressed in the jerseys of the Norwegian or Swedish national football teams (especially the Danish and Swedish teams have a highly competitive rivalry).
Aside from the statue on display, which is a replica of the original, more than thirteen undamaged copies of the statue are located around the world, listed by Mermaids of Earth, including Solvang, California; Kimballton, Iowa; Piatra Neamţ, Romania; Torrejón de Ardoz (Madrid), Spain; Seoul, South Korea; and a half-sized copy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The grave of Danish-American entertainer Victor Borge includes a copy as well. The Copenhagen Airport also has a replica of the mermaid along with a statue of Andersen.
Some statues similar to The Little Mermaid are in Sicily. The first it placed in 1962 on the seafront in Giardini Naxos, and measures about four meters high over a fountain. A second always portraying a mermaid Post on a depth of sea about 18 meters. Inside the Marine Protected Area of Plemmiro of Siracusa.
A statue of 'The Little Mermaid' looks out over Larvotto beach in Monaco. She was created, in 2000, with layers and layers of metal by Kristian Dahlgard, in homage to the Danes who live in Monaco and for the late Prince Rainier III to mark the 50th year of his reign.
A copy of the statue forms the Danish contribution to the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City. The half-size replica was stolen on February 26, 2010, but was recovered on April 7 abandoned in the park.
A replica of the statue was presented by Denmark to Brazil in 1960, in honor of the construction of Brasília, the country's new capital that was inaugurated in the year. It was installed just 5 years later in front of the main building of the Brazilian Navy Command, in Brasília, Federal District, where it remains today.
The statue is under copyright until 2029, seventy years after the 1959 death of the creator. As of 2019[update], replicas can be purchased, authorized for sale by the Eriksen family. The Danish newspaper Berlingske was sued in 2020 for publishing cartoons that parodied the statue as part of an article about Danish debate culture and right-wing ideas. The newspaper was accused of demonizing The Little Mermaid and the court ordered it to pay 285,000 kroner. The newspaper lost its appeal in February 2022.
A replica was installed in Greenville, Michigan in 1994 to celebrate the town's Danish heritage, at a cost of $10,000. In 2009 the Artists Rights Society asked the town for a $3,800 licensing fee, claiming the work violated Eriksen's copyright. At about 76 cm (30 in) in height, the replica in Greenville is half the size of the original, and has a different face and larger breasts as well as other distinguishing factors. The copyright claim was later reported to have been dropped.
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 1972 statue of a female diver (titled Girl in a Wetsuit by Elek Imredy) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada was commissioned when, unable to obtain permission to reproduce the Copenhagen statue, Vancouver authorities selected a modern version.
In 2016, a similar statue was installed at the harbor in Asaa, Denmark, where it is also mounted on the top of a rock. The heirs of the sculptor are suing, claiming that the Asaa statue bears too close a resemblance to the famous one, and they are demanding damages and the destruction of the Asaa statue.
In popular culture
The sculpture is seen in the following films:
- Sun Over Denmark (1936)
- Wienerbarnet (1941)
- Bundfald (1957)
- Forelsket i København (1960)
- Reptilicus (1961)
- Løgn og løvebrøl (1961)
- Pigen og millionæren (1965)
- En ven i bolignøden (1965)
- Slap af, Frede (1966)
- Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid (1975)
- Hopla på sengekanten (1976)
- Olsen-banden går i krig (1978)
- Walter og Carlo i Amerika (1989)
- Krummerne (1991)
- Copenhagen (2014)
- "Kopenhagens Nixe: Alter schützt Meerjungfrau nicht vor Rabauken" [Copenhagen Mermaid: Age does not protect Mermaid against vandals]. Der Spiegel (in German). JOL/Deutsche Presse-Agentur. August 17, 2008. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Little Mermaid Copenhagen Archived May 10, 2015, at the Wayback Machine - denmark.net. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Travelling Little Mermaid to resurface in Copenhagen by video". The Independent. Agence France-Presse. April 30, 2010. Archived from the original on June 18, 2022. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Southwick, Albert B. (June 3, 2007). "An imaginative explanation of the boy and the turtle". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbor". Copenhagen Pictures. Archived from the original on November 28, 1999. Retrieved August 17, 2008.
- "Maid in China". Jyllands-Posten. The Copenhagen Post. September 11, 2008. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "The Little Mermaid statue in Tivoli Gardens in 2010". Mermaids of Earth. November 27, 2012. Archived from the original on May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "Denmark may move Little Mermaid". BBC News. March 30, 2006. Archived from the original on March 30, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Den Lille Havfrue reddet fra gramsende turister Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine (in Danish). Jyllands-Posten. Published August 1, 2007. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
- "Feminists claim responsibility for statue attack". BBC News. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
- Little Mermaid's unexpected swim Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, September 12, 2003
- Little Mermaid statue vandalized. - Yahoo! News. Archived copy from July 12, 2007. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Little Mermaid defaced with paint, dildo" Archived November 25, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Mail & Guardian March 9, 2006.
- Jenkins, Aric (May 30, 2017). "Little Mermaid Statue in Copenhagen Drenched in Red Paint". Time. Archived from the original on May 31, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "Denmark's Poor 'Little Mermaid' Vandalized Again". NBC News. May 30, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
- "Denmark's Little Mermaid turns blue and white after latest vandalism". The Local. June 14, 2017. Archived from the original on June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Wisbech, S. (June 15, 2017). "Abdulles pårørende: Vi tager afstand fra hærværket på Den Lille Havfrue" (in Danish). Politiken. Archived from the original on June 18, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
- Batchelor, O. (January 13, 2020). "Den Lille Havfrue udsat for graffiti-hærværk" (in Danish). DR News. Archived from the original on January 13, 2020. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
- "Copenhagen's Little Mermaid labelled "racist fish"". Reuters. July 3, 2020. Archived from the original on July 6, 2020. Retrieved July 4, 2020.
- Ritzau (July 3, 2020). "Forsker efter hærværk: Jeg har svært ved at se, der skulle være noget specielt racistisk ved Den Lille Havfrue". Politiken. Archived from the original on June 22, 2021. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
- Darin, Johan (May 20, 2007). ""Den lilla sjöjungfrun" kläddes i burka". Kvällsposten (in Swedish). Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Danish Mermaid Statue Given a Headscarf Archived April 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press, May 21, 2007
- "Public Art Mermaid Statues & Sculptures around the World". Mermaids of Earth. 2012. Archived from the original on September 6, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- "In a Mermaid Statue, DanTimothy". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. July 27, 2009. Archived from the original on July 28, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
- "Little Mermaid's replica statue unveiled in Seoul". Korea Herald. 2016. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
- The Little Mermaid Archived April 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine - Downtown Public Art Circuit tour - The City of Calgary. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
- "Victor Borge". Find A Grave. Archived from the original on July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
- "Monumenti: La Sirenetta". Archived from the original on March 14, 2017.
- RagusaNews (August 18, 2011). "Visita dei sommozzatori iblei alla statua di una sirena". ragusanews.com. Archived from the original on March 24, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
- Little Mermaid statue found in International Peace Gardens - ABC4 Salt Lake City (abc4.com). Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- Ana Maria da Silva (February 20, 2021). "Presente da Dinamarca para Brasília, Pequena Sereia está abandonada" (in Portuguese). Correio Braziliense. Archived from the original on March 6, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
- "Products and prices". The Little Mermaid. The Partnership of Sculptor Edvard Eriksen's Heirs. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
- Jones, Helen (November 24, 2020). "Berlingske fined for "demonising" The Little Mermaid". The Copenhagen Post. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
- Delmelle, Armelle (February 11, 2022). "Supreme Court upholds newspaper fine for using Little Mermaid image". The Copenhagen Post. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
- The Grand Rapids Press (April 4, 2009). "Artists Rights Society drops fight against Greenville's 'Little Mermaid' statue". MLive. Archived from the original on July 21, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
- Abend, Lisa (August 17, 2021). "Denmark Now Has Two Little Mermaids. The Famous One Is Suing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 22, 2021. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
- "Søllerød Den Lille Havfrue". danskefilm.dk (in Danish). Archived from the original on March 17, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- Official website
- Mermaid of North
- The Little Mermaid. Photo gallery from Denmark. Hans Christian Andersen Information
- The Little Mermaid – 360 degree QuickTime VR panorama from Copenhagen
- The Little Mermaid human statue recreated in Sydney, Australia