Salvador Dalí

Hans Christian Andersen tales – The Little Mermaid I

1966
lithograph on paper
Inventory number 1167
Dutch author Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) is renowned for publishing more than 150 literary fairy tales. In 1966 Salvador Dalí created 10 illustrations to celebrate some of the tales.

The Little Mermaid was first published in 1837 and tells the story of a young mermaid that wants to trade her life in the sea for a human soul. This story must have fascinated Dalí because of the themes about religion and death. The young mermaid was able to visit the human world when she was a teenager and upon returning to the sea, she asked her grandmother if humans lived forever. Her grandmother explained that unlike mermaids that live for hundreds of years, humans have a short life on earth, but their souls live on forever in heaven. 

Dalí made two artworks dedicated to this fairy tale, titled The Little Mermaid I (Inventory number 1167) and The Little Mermaid II (Inventory number 1171). The Little Mermaid I shows a beautiful mermaid, longing to a human which is depicted by a figure with human feet.