Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 121

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Edvard Eriksen’s father was a shoemaker in Copenhagen, and his mother originally came from
Iceland. As a young man, he trained as a woodcarver and then entered the Royal Academy of Fine
Arts in
, advancing to the model class. He left the academy in
without passing the finals.
After holding a post with a casting company in the island of Funen, where he married in
, he
moved to Copenhagen and earned a living as a stucco worker, proceeding with his art in spare time.
However, at the Charlottenborg Exhibition of
he was successful with his first important figure
, of a mother holding her child. His model was his beautiful wife. The sculpture won the
annual Academy medal and was bought by the national gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst. Two
years later, he produced a group work called
The Sentence of Adam and Eve
, which he sold to the
same museum and years later carved in marble in Italy. A bursary in
enabled him to live with his
family in Florence, Rome, and Carrara with a stay in Dresden, Germany, before coming home in the
spring of
he entered an official competition to produce a monument in memory of King Christian
IX (
) and Queen Louise (
) in the cathedral of Roskilde. Due to a shortness of time,
he could not satisfy the conditions of the competition, but even so, he was nominated to finish the
monument jointly with the architect Hack Kampmann (
). From
, Eriksen pro-
duced three marble figures:
, and
. The female faces, for which his wife
was the model, are very similar to that of
The Little Mermaid
erected in
at the waterfront of
Copenhagen. Illustrating Hans Christian Andersen’s (
) fairy tale, this figure is Eriksen’s
main work, which is now world-famous.
In spite of his success, Eriksen eventually experienced hard times. His style—Naturalism with a
touch of Symbolism—was outdated by the upcoming Modernism, and commissions slowed to a
trickle. Though he was forced to sell his villa in Copenhagen with its studio, he made a living creat-
ing small-scale tombstone monuments for private families. During the
German occupation
of Denmark he once again modeled a statue, illustrating a fairy tale by Andersen,
Clumsy Hans
, of a young man riding a goat. A cast of this, made in
, commemorates the Danish-
born actor Jean Hersholt (
) and can be seen at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los
Angeles. Hersholt had known Andersen well. In
, Hersholt had published his own English trans-
lation of all Andersen’s fairy-tales,
The Complete Andersen
, in New York.
         :
Dorthe Falcon Møller in:
h, Vol. II, Copenhagen
; Egon Eriksen,
Edvard Eriksen og Den lille Havfrue – liv og kuns
; Christopher Bramsen,
Hans Christian Andersen’s the Little Mermaid, from Fairy-Tale to National Monumen
t, Copenhagen
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