Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 123

  ‒    
   .
The Little Mermaid
(Den lille havfrue)
Replica in half size after the original from
Patinated bronze, H.
       :
Bruun Rasmussen Auction
, lot
, ill.
         :
Jens Erik Sørensen (ed.),
Dansk skulptur i
, p.
; Per Eilstrup,
The little Mermaid. Her Story,
the Writer and the Fairy Tale,
; Egon Eriksen,
Edvard Eriksen og Den lille Havfrue – liv og kunst,
Egon Eriksen,
The little Mermaid of Copenhagen and Her Family,
; Christopher Bramsen,
Hans Christian Ander-
sen’s the Little Mermaid, From Fairy-Tale to National Monument,
his figure is a smaller and later version of Eriksen’s most famous sculpture
The Little Mermaid
. The subject is the mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s well-known fairy-tale, first pub-
lished in
. It is about the fate of the youngest daughter of the sea king. At the age of fifteen, she is
allowed to rise out of the ocean to admire the world of human beings while sitting on a rock in the moon-
light. Here she falls in love with a beautiful young prince, whom she eventually saves from drowning in a
shipwreck. Now she is tempted to become human and gain an immortal soul, this being possible only if
someone falls deeply in love with her. If not, then she must die, her body dissolving into foam. She carries
out her plan with help from a witch (by means of a magical drink), who demands her tongue in return for
transforming her fishtail into two legs. The mermaid swims to the prince’s palace, swallows the draught,
and faints. When waking up with her new legs she is found by the prince, who takes her to his court, even-
tually spending a lovely time with her. Everyone admires her beauty and extraordinarily graceful dance.
Although the prince is about to marry the daughter of a neighbouring kingdom, he takes the mermaid with
him on the ship sailing to her country. The princess is beautiful, but he mistakenly believes the princess is
the girl who saved his life and their engagement is announced. The mermaid’s heart breaks, and at sunrise
the following morning, she hurls herself into the sea where her body dissolves in foam. However, she does
not die, but is welcomed by the “daughters of the air.” She is invited to join them and will eventually gain
an immortal soul doing noble deeds.
In the age of Romanticism, imaginative beings—such as mermaids and elfin maidens—inspired poets,
painters and choreographers as symbols of man’s temptations. Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaid is by far
the most famous, and similarly over the years Eriksen’s figure has gained in popularity to become the very
symbol of Copenhagen, Denmark. Today the Disney film based on Andersen’s story, but changed to end
happily, is also well-known.
Eriksen’s original bronze figure is mounted on a granite stone placed just a bit outside the coast among
similar stones. From there she faces the sea with a sad look, longing for her sisters in the deep and consid-
ering the price of becoming human. The statue was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen (
), creator of
the brewery Ny Carlsberg in Copenhagen and famous as patron and collector of art. He turned his vast
private collection into a public museum, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, dedicated to modern and antique
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