Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 124

sculpture. Since then it has developed into one of the finest museums in Denmark, housing also Danish
Golden Age and French Impressionist painting.
The idea of the mermaid sculpture came to Jacobsen in

as he attended a ballet at the Royal The-
atre based on Andersen’s fairy-tale, choreographed by Hans Beck (
‒
), with music by Fini Henriques
(
‒
). With the prima ballerina Ellen Price (
‒
) in the title role, the ballet was a great success,
performed more than

times. Jacobsen very much admired female dancers of whom he had commis-
sioned earlier statues. In Elsinore, close to the castle of Kronborg, stands a fountain with several dancers
by Rudolf Tegner (


), and a group statue of dancers by Carl Bonnesen (
‒
) is at the
Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, both also commissioned by Jacobsen.
In the spring of

, Eriksen had a model in clay ready for Jacobsen to approve. However, Jacobsen was
not content because she had legs, not a mermaid’s fishtail. The sculptor did not entirely follow Jacobsen’s
demand but let the feet be clad in fins. Originally Eriksen wanted the dancer Ellen Price to be the model,
but according to Eriksen’s son, she refused to pose in the nude, so once again he chose his wife. By the fall
of

, the figure was finished and cast in bronze the following year. Finally, it was placed at Langelinie, a
walking promenade in the northern end of the old Copenhagen harbor, close to the Citadel. The festive
inauguration took place on August

,

, to the delight of Jacobsen.
As the popularity of the mermaid statue continued to rise, Eriksen was often asked to make replicas,
which he agreed to do, but only in formats smaller than the original. His will stipulates that his heirs and
descendants adhere to this decision. There are statuettes of a height of

cm in bronze and in porcelain,
the latter produced by the Royal Danish Manufactory of Porcelain (Royal Copenhagen). In the

s, Erik-
sen allowed his original foundry, the firm Lauritz Rasmussen, to produce it half-size, which is about

cm.
There are approximately

such casts, all made from the artist’s original form, supervised by himself and
later by his descendants. In the beginning, this version of the mermaid figure was mounted on a granite
stone, but from the

s, the “stone” was cast in bronze, as is the case with the figure now in the Loeb Col-
lection. When Lauritz closed down in

the casting of the mermaids was taken over by one of the firm’s
pupils, Holger Rolsted (
‒
), who had his own foundry from

. As the Loeb figure bears the stamp
of Rolsted’s, it must be dated between

and

. Eriksen also made a version in the format
:
for Osaka
in Japan, which is placed close to the water. Quite small versions are sold as tourist souvenirs.
Today Eriksen’s figure is not the only mermaid statue located on the Copenhagen waterfront. In

Bjørn Nørgaard (*

), known for the series of tapestries on Danish history in the palace of Christiansborg,
made a modern, distorted version of the mermaid, placed not far from the original. In

, yet another
mermaid has appeared at the Copenhagen harbour, a bronze cast after the figure (in Statens Museum for
Kunst) modelled in

by Anne Marie Carl Nielsen (
‒
), wife of the famous Danish composer, Carl
Nielsen (
‒
). More true to Andersen’s story, her mermaid is very young and with her big tail, appears
startled in the moment where the transformation begins. Her presence outside the Royal Library’s modern
building (called “The Black Diamond”) is because the library houses the first editions of Andersen’s tales
and the musical work of Carl Nielsen. According to old legends, mermaids were said to be frequently in the
waters once leading to Denmark’s naval harbour.
E.F.

]
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