Description & Technical information

This unique bronze was cast from a model of the same dimensions made in  clay. It shows the artist reaching the end of his research for the final
project. Bartholdi would finalise his subject by swapping the stars on the diadem (seven like the seven continents) for 25 arcatures and  changing small details in the face. For example, the ears that are fully visible in our version are slightly hidden at the top by the diadem in 
the final presentation.

This bronze dated 1875 is the only example of this particular model. This sculpture is also the only bronze model before the final version on  which the date of the Declaration of Independence is written with Arabic numbers while in the other bronzes the date is in Roman numerals.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar to a middle-class family. After  his father's death, the Bartholdi family moved to Paris where Frédéric 
studied architecture and painting with Ary Scheffer and then sculpture  in the studios of Soitoux and Etex. Our sculptor had always been  obsessed with patriotism, both for his homeland (even more after Alsace was annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870) and for those countries representing Freedom.

His project for the lighthouse at the mouth of the Suez Canal in the form of a female figure bearing a torch in her left hand may have been the initial conception  of Liberty Enlightening the World. This commission was never realised, 
but the idea was certainly transferred to the New York Harbour figure.

Everything began with a French politician who was a great admirer of the United  States of America and its constitution: Mr Edouard Lefèbvre de Laboulaye (1811-1883). It was during a dinner party at his place in 1865 that he  raised the idea with Bartholdi of creating a monument to honourthe 100th anniversary of the US as a cradle of Liberty in order to express the admiration of the French for this great new country.

Some 150 laborers worked on it for 10 years from 1875 to 1885. The statue was  made of 300 copper plates in the repoussé technique and put together in  Paris, weighing a total weight of 450 000 lbs. It was dismantled and 
transported by train from Paris to Le Havre. From there it was shipped  to the US in 214 numbered crates and then reassembled on Bedloe's Island in June 19, 1885.

The iron tower built inside the statue was  designed by Gustave Eiffel and represented a complete new way of 
creating a monumental sculpture. The Lady's skeleton is made from some  250 000 lbs od puddled iron. Its spine is a pylon containing a  double-helix stairwell. Four legs support the pylon, each connected by  nine levels of horizontal struts and diagonak cross braces. There is  also a secondary frame, or armature, that conforms to the outer contour 
of the statue. The armature consists of about a mile's worth of  puddled-iron bars, more than 1 300 of them, 2"wide by 5/8" thick and  weighing about 20lbs each. The copper skin sections are attached to the  armature by 1 500 U-shaped copper saddles, using some 300 000 copper rivets.

The original engineer, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879)  wanted to fill the sculpture with boxes of sand to stabilise it but,  fortunately for today's visitors who can go inside and admire the view  from the top of the head, he died suddenly in 1879, leaving Eiffel in  charge.

In 1874, Bartholdi created the Franco-American Committe to raise funds for his creation through public lotteries but the sculptor  actually started working on the final model before any funds arrived. Hehad worked in the US previously, creating a 15 feet-high bronze of  Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Located in Union Square Park in Manhattan, it was donated by the New York's French residents and inaugurated on September 6, 1876.

By 1874, only the right arm and torch were ready for a presentation on the 100th anniversary of American
independence. At this stage it had been agreed that France would provide the money for the statue and America for its pedestal. Bartholdi went as far as organizing a lunch for 20 reporters in the statue's right leg and holding a great many dinners to get the money needed for the completion of the work in France. But in America, the wealthy and the politicians turned their backs on the project. Even Congress vetoed the $100 000 budget after New York State had already voted to pay half the amount needed. From small reproductions to toothpaste, no effort was spared in trying to raise the necessary funds through merchandising. But the campaign had already made the statue the icon which still is today.

It was Joseph Pulitze, owner of the newspaper the New York World who raised $100 000 in less than six months (on August 11, 1885) for the pedestal to be completed by April 1886. His first article was published on March 16, 1885. He wrote:

"We must raise the monet! The World is the people's paper, and now it appeals for the people to come forward and raise money. The $250 000 that the making of the Statue cost was paid in the masses of the French people- by working men, the tradesmen, the shop girls, the artisans- by all, irrespective of class or condition. Let us respond in like manner. Let us not wait for the millionaires to give us money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gifht for the whole people of France to the whole people of America.

Most donations from roughly 125 000 people were of $1 or less. Pulitzer also promised to publish in his newspaper the name of every man and woman wo gave to the pedestal, no matter what size their donation.

The symbol containedin the sculpture are numerous. First the torch held in the right hand is a symbol of enlightenment; it shows the way to freedom and the path to Liberty. The tablet she holds in her left hand is dated 4th July/1776 which is the date of the declaration of independence of America but the tablet itself is a book of law on which the principles of the country are based. It is also why the date is, in the final version, in Roman 
numerals rather than Arabic numbers.

The shape of the tablet is also called a keystone. A keystone in architecture is the central piece that holds the others together. Without everyting would fall apart. The keystone of this nation is law and without law freedom and democracy would not prevail. The seven spikes replate to the seven seas and the seven continents reinforcing the universal concept of libery.

The Statue of Liberty wears a free-flowing robe of stola, a powerful reference to the Roman influence of the goddess Libertas, who was worshipped by freed slaves. The 25 windows of the crown (replaced in our model by seven stars) represent the heaven's rays of light shining above the seven seas and continents. The broken chain visible at the 
feet also symbolises freedom.

The Statue of Liberty is not onyl a New Yorker or an American symbol but a worldwide inspiration for millions…


Date:  1875
Period:  19th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Bronze sculpture
Dimensions: 133.5 x 33.1 x 33.8 cm (52¹/₂ x 13 x 13¹/₄ inches)
Provenance: Private collection of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi until 1904.
Collection Jeanne-Emilie Bartholdi, born Baheux de Puyssieux until 1914.
Collection her sister, Charlotte Baheux.
Her daughter, Hortense Baheux who married Albert Joseph Février in 1881.
By descent to her son: Marcel Février.
His nephew.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Literature: Liberty: The French-American Statue in Art and History, Public
Library, 1986, illustrated four times under the n°196, p.97, in colour,
front back and two profles (pl. a, b, c, & d).
Collectif et Comité officiel franco-américain pour la célébration du centenaire de la statue de la liberté, LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ/l'exposition du
centenaire, musée des arts décoratifs, Paris, 1986, p.107 n°196
illustrated on three sides & p.141 illustrated in colour n°196.
Christie's, Special Centennial Exhibition/IMAGES OF LIBERTY/Models and reductions of the Statue of Liberty 1867-1917, Christie's New York, January 25th - February 15th, 1986. P. 14-15, fig. 15 ill.
Le Quotidien de Paris
, n°2183, November 28th, 1986, p.34 cited.

Exhibitions: La Statue de la Liberté, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, October 1986 - February 1987.
Liberty, The French-American Statue in Art and History, Public Library, New York, June 1986 - August 1986.

Categories: Sculpture