The statue of The Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue in Danish) sits on a rock in the harbour of the capital of Denmark. Based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and a major tourist attraction.
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 primaballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue, which was unveiled on 23 August 1913. 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.
The relatively small size of the statue typically surprises tourists visiting Langelinie for the first time. The Little Mermaid statue is only 1.25 metres high and weighs around 175 kg.
There are similarities between the Little Mermaid statue and the Pania of the Reef statue on the beachfront at Napier in New Zealand, and some similarities in the Little Mermaid and Pania tales. The statue of a (titled "Girl in a Wetsuit" by Elek Imredy) in Vancouver, Canada was placed there when, unable to obtain permission to reproduce the Copenhagen statue, Vancouver authorities selected a modern version.
The Copenhagen City Council decided to move the statue to Shanghai at the Danish Pavilion for the duration of the Expo 2010 (from May to October), the first time it had been moved from its perch since it was installed almost a century earlier.