The fairy tale of the mermaid Undine is immortalized in the Undine Fountain and its sculpture of Undine and the other characters in the story. The sculpture was created in 1903 by sculptor Josef Valentin Kassin to commemorate the completion of the city water pipeline system in Baden, Austria.
The statue of Undine is made of Italian Carrara marble, while the base of the fountain and the other characters were made in sandstone. The story of Undine was written by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque in 1811. It tells the story of Undine who was born as a mermaid, but was exchanged as a child for a human child by a river god. The dramatic and complex story evolves from there, with a tragic ending, as is often the case in mermaid-loves-human stories.
Kassin stated that he modeled the faces of the figures in the fountain from prominent citizens of Baden. In particular, Mercédès Jellinek was his model for the facial features of the Undine statue. Mercédès was a young (aged 14) socialite, after whom the Mercedes automobile brand was named. She was the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who had a major influence on helping the Mercedes-Benz brand become famous.
Mermaids with legs …
Undine is depicted in her human form – with legs instead of a mermaid tail, which makes sense in the context of the fairy tale.
Mermaids depicted with legs is fairly common – it is often part of mermaid stories, legends or mythology. Some examples of this includes Kopakonen on the Faroe Islands, the Havis Amanda in Helsinki, Pania of the Reef in New Zealand, even The Little Mermaid from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, as well as the more contemporary mermaids Ama and Atlante by Amaryllis, who are shown to walk on land amongst us to convince mankind to protect the oceans.
Please proceed to the page dedicated to the Undine Fountain – it contains a lot of additional photos and information on this sculpture and its history.