Another Missing Tapestry Mystery to Solve: Frida Hansen’s Mermaid from 1925

Those who have followed my fascination with Frida Hansen know about the missing swans and mermaids tapestry that I wrote about in the Norwegian Textile Letter. See “Frida Hansen: Will We Ever See her Woven Swans and Maidens?” (Norwegian Textile Letter, November 2018)

Can you imagine the blue, white, and silver threads of “Southward?” (Sørover)

I recently wrote to a member of Frida Hansen’s family about a different Frida Hansen tapestry (I’ll write about that soon). Finn Levy, a great-grandson of Frida Hansen, was a great help. He also mentioned that he is interested in discovering the whereabouts of Frida Hansen’s tapestries that traveled to the U.S. While looking through his father’s papers recently, he found a photo of a tapestry woven in 1925, “The Little Mermaid.” He even knew the number of the piece in the 1973 list of works compiled by Anniken Thue, Frida Hansen (1855-1931): europeeren I norsk vevkunst (Frida Hansen (1855-1931): A European in Norwegian Weaving).

My well-used copy of the list of works
#28. In that catalog, only a photo of the preliminary sketch is included.

Finn Levy ran across an actual photo.

“The Little Mermaid.” 1925

Your task, dear readers? Find “The Little Mermaid.” Here is the information given about it in Anniken Thue’s list.

Tapestry, wool on cotton warp. Around 300 x 130 cm (78″ x 51″), according to the cartoon. Colors: Upper part has green trees with roses in shades of red. Lower section blue.

Interestingly, Finn Levy used a program called My Heritage to add color to his photo. This is the result–it’s so interesting to see, but I don’t think it captures Frida Hansen’s amazing palette.

Owner: According to, among other sources, the Norsk biografisk leksikon (Norwegian Biographical Dictionary), Volume 5, Oslo, 1931, the tapestry was sold to the Academy of Arts in Honolulu. This is unconfirmed, and the tapestry has not been traced.

Anniken Thue mentions three times it was exhibited:
1925, May. Stavanger Kunstforening, Stavanger.
1925, November. Blomquist, Oslo.
1927, April. Honolulu Academy of Arts?

Send this on to anyone who might have Hawaii art world connections! Let’s solve this mystery.


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