The statue of The Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue in Danish) sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour at Langelinie. This small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and a major tourist attraction.
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 primaballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the statue, which was unveiled on 23 August 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 relatively small size of the statue typically surprises tourists visiting for the first time. The Little Mermaid statue is only 1.25 metres high and weighs around 175 kg.
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 statue of a woman diver (titled "Girl in a Wetsuit" by Elek Imredy) in Vancouver, Canada was placed there when, unable to obtain permission to reproduce the Copenhagen statue, Vancouver authorities selected a modern version.
The Copenhagen City Council are planning to move the statue to Shanghai for the duration of the Expo 2010 (from May to October).
Vandalism of the statue
This statue has been damaged and defaced many times since the mid-1950s for various reasons, but has each time been restored. In 2007, Copenhagen officials announced that the statue may be moved further out in the harbour, as to avoid further vandalism and to prevent tourists from climbing onto it.
* 24 April 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.
* 22 July 1984 – her right arm was sawn off. The arm was returned 2 days later by two young vandals.
* 1990 – another attempt was made to cut her head off, which resulted in an 18 cm deep cut in the neck.
* 6 January 1998 – she lost her head for the second time, the culprits were never found, but the head was returned anonymously to a nearby TV station, and on 4 February the head was back on.
* Red paint has been thrown on her several times, including one episode in 1961 where her hair was painted red and a bra was painted on her.
* 11 September 2003 – the statue was blasted off its rock, possibly with dynamite.
* In 2004, it was draped in a burka as a statement against Turkey joining the European Union.
* March 8, 2006 – a dildo was attached to the statue's hand, green paint was dumped over it, and the words March 8 were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism has something to do with International Women's Day (which is on March 8).
* March 3, 2007 – the statue was again covered with pink paint.
* May 2007 – the statue was covered with paint by vandals.
* May 20, 2007 – it was found draped in a Muslim dress and head scarf.