The Little Mermaid (statue)

The Little Mermaid (Statue)
Den lille Havfrue
A statue of a mermaid sitting on a rock, surrounded by water.
Statue of The Little Mermaid at Langelinie
The Little Mermaid (statue) is located in Copenhagen
The Little Mermaid (statue)
Location in Copenhagen
LocationCopenhagen, Denmark
DesignerEdvard Eriksen
Opening dateAugust 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[2] and weighs 175 kilograms (385 lb).[3]

Based on the 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: Manneken Pis in Brussels,[4] the Statue of Liberty in New York and Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In several cases, cities have commissioned statues for such a purpose, such as with Singapore's Merlion.


Ellen Price as the Little Mermaid, Royal Danish Ballet, 1909.
Assembly of the Little Mermaid statue (Copenhagen, Langeline, 1913).

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[3][6] While the statue was away in Shanghai an authorised copy was displayed on a rock in the lake in Copenhagen's nearby Tivoli Gardens.[7] Copenhagen officials have considered moving the statue several meters out into the harbour to discourage vandalism and to prevent tourists from climbing onto it,[8] but as of May 2014 the statue remains on dry land at the water side at Langelinie.


Police technicians examine the damage to the statue after being blasted off its base the day of September 10, 2003.

This 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.[1] The head was never recovered and a new head was produced and placed on the statue.[1] On July 22, 1984, the right arm was sawn off and returned two days later by two young men.[1][9] In 1990, an attempt to sever the statue's head left an 18 centimeters (7 in) deep cut in the neck.[1]

On January 6, 1998, the statue was decapitated again;[9][10] 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.[11]

In 2004, the statue was draped in a burqa in a protest against Turkey's application to join the European Union.[12] In May 2007, it was again found draped in Muslim dress and a head scarf.[13]

Paint has been poured on the statue several times, including one episode in 1963 and two in March and May 2007.[9][14] 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.[1][8][15] 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.[16][17] 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.[18]

Other Languages
беларуская: Русалачка (статуя)
한국어: 작은 인어상
interlingua: Parve Sirena
Lëtzebuergesch: Kleng Mierjoffer
lietuvių: Undinėlė
日本語: 人魚姫の像
norsk nynorsk: Den lille havfrue
粵語: 美人魚像