Get to know Copenhagen: The Little Mermaid

February 8, 2017 • 2 min read

Who is she really, and why have The Little Mermaid become so popular? The statue is over hundred years old and has been vandalised many times. Let’s get to know her story!

First and foremost: the man behind the statue is Edvard Eriksen. He lived between 1876 to 1959 and studied at the Royal Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen, before his career really got started and he got assignments from the King Kristian IX. He later on got the mission to create The Little Mermaid.

Many know that Edvard Eriksen created the sculpture after the Danish writer H.C Andersen’s story, Den lille Havfrue, but not everyone knows that Eriksen’s wife Eline herself got to model when he was to create the sculpture, and why. The man who ‘ordered’ the sculpture was Carl Jacbosen, son to the founder of the beer empire Carlsberg. He was at the Royal Theatre of Copenhagen to see the play Den lille Havfrue when he got all fascinated and decided that a statue absolutely had to be done. He wanted the ballerina in the play, Ellen Price, to be the model for the statue. She refused to pose naked, so Eriksen’s wife had to pose instead, however the head is done after Ellen Price.

The statue was inaugurated on the 23rd of August, 1913. The sculpture standing in Copenhagen today is however a copy of the original sculpture, which is owned by Eriksen’s heirs. The Little Mermaid has – unfortunetely – been vandalised a couple of times. Already in 1964 her head was sawed of, never to be found again. In 1998 her (new) head was sawed of again, but it was found later. In 2003 she fell of her thrown when explosives was blown in the water, she got holes in her knee and wrist. In 2004 she was wrapped in a burqa. Several time she’s been re-painted, both in 1963 and 2007. Since then, she has been left alone (when writing this 2017). We hope she gets to rest in the future!

If you want to visit The Little Mermaid, head to Langelinie.