It is hard to believe that of all Denmark is known for and renowned for around the world, one of its most famous associations is with a bronze statue just over one meter tall. Yet The Little Mermaid statue, based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, has become synonymous with Copenhagen in the 100 years since it was first constructed in 1913.
The statue rests on a rock a few meters into Copenhagen’s harbour, just off the picturesque Langelinie Promenade. First unveiled on August 23, 1913, there it has remained with the exception of a six-month period in 2010, when the Copenhagen City Council decided (quizzically) to move the statue to Danish Pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. It was originally commissioned by Carl Jacobsen (son of the founder of Carlsberg), who was fascinated by a ballet about The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre. Edvard Eriksen was the sculptor, with Prima ballerina Ellen Price modeling for hi. But when she would not agree to model nude, his wife Eline stepped in.
The statue has become a mecca of sorts for political activists and vandals, prompting the city to consider moving it further into the harbour. We have compiled a list of the most memorable happenings involving The Little Mermaid over the past half-century:
- April 24, 1964: The Mermaid’s head is sawn off and stolen by politically-oriented activists of the Situationist movement. It was never recovered, and a new head was produced.
- July 22, 1984: The statue’s right arm is sawn off, and returned two days later by two men.
- August 5, 1990: Another attempt is made to saw off the head, unsuccessfully. An 18cm cut is left in the neck.
- January 6, 1998: The statue is again decapitated, with the head being returned anonymously to a local television station and re-attached on February 4th.
- September 10, 2003: The statue is knocked off its base with explosives, and is later recovered in the harbour with holes in the Mermaid’s knee and wrist.
- December 16, 2004: The Mermaid is dressed in a burqa as a statement against Turkey joining the European Union.
- March 8, 2006: A dildo is attached to the Mermaid’s hand, green paint is dumped all over it, and the words “March 8” are written on her. March 8th is International Women’s Day.
- May 20, 2007: She is again draped in a Muslim dress and head scarf.
Which do you think is most creative?