Thursday, March 10, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 237

 The Little Mermaid statue, Copenhagen, Denmark

This postcard has a picture of the Little Mermaid statue found on a rock by the water at Langelinie street in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Her story is one of the fairy tales written by the Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen.  The statue is the best-known work of Edvard Eriksen (1876-1959), a Danish-Icelandic sculptor, who created the statue in 1909-1913 as commissioned by Carl Jacobsen.  The ballerina, Ellen Price, who had appeared in the ballet version of the story was chosen as the model but she refused to pose nude so only her head was used and Eriksen’s wife, Eline Eriksen, posed for the body of the statue instead. 

Eriksen was first an apprentice wood carver who later went on to train at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1894-1899).  He taught at the Royal Academy between 1908-1919 and was also a conservator at the Thorvaldsen Museum 1930 to 1953. 

The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen have been translated into more than 125 languages and many of his stories have inspired ballets, plays, animated and live-action films.  Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark in 1805 and died in Copenhagen in the year 1875.  Some of his early stories were revisions of tales he had heard as a child, he later began writing new stories of his own.  I liked a quote from the “Ugly Duckling” that says:  “It doesn’t matter about being born in a duck yard, as long as you are hatched from a swan’s egg.”  Andersen’s likeness appears on a 1935 Danish stamp.  As he was dying he consulted a composer about the music for his funeral saying “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps.”  [Wikipedia]  He was revered and considered a national treasure of Denmark.

The stamp on the reverse of this postcard was issued in the 1960s and bears the likeness of the then king of Denmark, Frederick IX.  

The Little Mermaid statue is just a short distance from this corner

When we visited Denmark in 1982 we walked down Langelinie promenade to see the Little Mermaid.  Contrary to what we expected she is not prominently displayed in a park but sits quietly on a rock right on the shoreline near a busy harbor.  Unless looking specifically for her, she might be easy to miss.  Possibly due to the close access and lack of security surrounding her, she has been subject to vandalism and defacement on several occasions.  Her head has been removed twice, her right arm cut off, the entire statue blown off the rock by explosives, paint poured over her, and various costumes draped over her to make political statements.  Fortunately, it has been possible to restore the statue each time following one of these incidents. 

 This photo above shows how close the statue is to the shore

The statue is relatively small, 4 feet (1.25 meters) tall and weighs 385 pounds (175 kilograms).

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