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Arts/Culture
Aug 20, 2021

Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid finds herself in middle of a dispute

Foreign Affairs News Correspondent
The “Little Mermaid” statue in Langelinie harbor, in Copenhagen. The sculpture was a gift to the city in 1913. Credit Ole Jensen/Getty Images
The “Little Mermaid” statue in Langelinie harbor, in Copenhagen. The sculpture was a gift to the city in 1913. Credit Ole Jensen/Getty Images

The world-famous ‘The Little Mermaid’ sculpture in the Danish capital Copenhagen, has been watching the harbour serenely for over a century. However, a more recent artwork elsewhere in the country has caused a bit of tension.

A newer mermaid statue in Asaa Havn first showed its face in 2016, but its days might be coming to an end.

The Little Mermaid is a statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid becoming human. Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen.

The sculpture is made of bronze and granite and is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is 1.25 metres tall and weighs 175 kilograms.

The famous statue in Copenhagen’s harbor commemorates the sad little Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince for hopeless love.

Heirs to the rights of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen believe that the “rival” shares too many similarities with the original and therefore it must be plagiarism. They say “it looks too much like the original in Copenhagen” and demand the new statue be dismantled and destroyed.

The sculptor Palle Mork, who created the mermaid in Asaa Havn, defended his work, saying it’s much larger and made of a different material. But the protectors of Edvard Eriksen’s iconic 1913 statue waged a battle for years to protect the artwork’s image and usage rights.

In folklore, a mermaid is an aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including Europe, Asia, and Africa

The Little Mermaid was released to theaters on November 17, 1989 to critical acclaim, earning praise for the animation, music, and characters. It was also a commercial success, garnering US $84 million at the domestic box office during its initial release, and US $233 million in total lifetime gross worldwide.

Though Denmark has two Little Mermaids, the famous one is Suing. Two mermaids themselves are maintaining a stony silence.