Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid statue was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen, he of Carlsberg fame, to the city of Copenhagen. The sculpture, by artist Edvard Eriksen, is made of bronze and granite and was inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name, the story of a mermaid who gives up everything to be unified with a young, handsome prince on land. Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and, perched on her rock in the water, she stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince. Carl Jacobsen fell in love with the character after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at the Royal Danish Theater. The brewer was so captivated by both the fairy tale and the ballet that he commissioned Eriksen to create a sculpture of the mermaid. Eriksen’s wife, Eline, posed for the statue.
Love it or loath it, this unremarkable statue is the iconic symbol of Copenhagen & the most photographed sight not only in the city but in all of Denmark. Denmark’s leading lady survived World War II occupation unscathed but unfortunately she hasn’t been as lucky in recent times, having lost her head a few times, as well as her arms (who would do such a thing?). In response to this, Carlsberg commissioned, in 2006, Danish artist Bjorn Norgaard to create this new Little Mermaid, one that sits not too far from the original on Copenhagen’s oft-windswept harbourfront.