Liberty Girl


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Liberty Girl Vol. 1: The Return

Bartholdi's early models were all similar in concept: a female figure in neoclassical style representing liberty, wearing a stola and pella gown and cloak, common in depictions of Roman goddesses and holding a torch aloft. According to popular accounts, the face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor's mother, [29] but Regis Huber, the curator of the Bartholdi Museum is on record as saying that this, as well as other similar speculations, have no basis in fact. He gave it bold classical contours and applied simplified modeling, reflecting the huge scale of the project and its solemn purpose.

The surfaces should be broad and simple, defined by a bold and clear design, accentuated in the important places. The enlargement of the details or their multiplicity is to be feared.


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By exaggerating the forms, in order to render them more clearly visible, or by enriching them with details, we would destroy the proportion of the work. Finally, the model, like the design, should have a summarized character, such as one would give to a rapid sketch.

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Only it is necessary that this character should be the product of volition and study, and that the artist, concentrating his knowledge, should find the form and the line in its greatest simplicity. Bartholdi made alterations in the design as the project evolved. Bartholdi considered having Liberty hold a broken chain, but decided this would be too divisive in the days after the Civil War. The erected statue does stride over a broken chain, half-hidden by her robes and difficult to see from the ground. By , France was enjoying improved political stability and a recovering postwar economy.

Growing interest in the upcoming Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia led Laboulaye to decide it was time to seek public support.

“The New Colossus” was actually born in Egypt

With the announcement, the statue was given a name, Liberty Enlightening the World. Initially focused on the elites, the Union was successful in raising funds from across French society. Laboulaye's political allies supported the call, as did descendants of the French contingent in the American Revolutionary War. Less idealistically, contributions came from those who hoped for American support in the French attempt to build the Panama Canal. The copper may have come from multiple sources and some of it is said to have come from a mine in Visnes , Norway, [40] though this has not been conclusively determined after testing samples.

Although plans for the statue had not been finalized, Bartholdi moved forward with fabrication of the right arm, bearing the torch, and the head. The exhibition grounds contained a number of monumental artworks to compete for fairgoers' interest, including an outsized fountain designed by Bartholdi.

During his second trip to the United States, Bartholdi addressed a number of groups about the project, and urged the formation of American committees of the Franco-American Union.

President Rutherford B. Hayes , who took office the following day, selected the Bedloe's Island site that Bartholdi had proposed. On his return to Paris in , Bartholdi concentrated on completing the head, which was exhibited at the Paris World's Fair. Fundraising continued, with models of the statue put on sale. The head and arm had been built with assistance from Viollet-le-Duc, who fell ill in He soon died, leaving no indication of how he intended to transition from the copper skin to his proposed masonry pier. Eiffel opted not to use a completely rigid structure, which would force stresses to accumulate in the skin and lead eventually to cracking.

A secondary skeleton was attached to the center pylon, then, to enable the statue to move slightly in the winds of New York Harbor and as the metal expanded on hot summer days, he loosely connected the support structure to the skin using flat iron bars [30] which culminated in a mesh of metal straps, known as "saddles", that were riveted to the skin, providing firm support.

In a labor-intensive process, each saddle had to be crafted individually. Eiffel's design made the statue one of the earliest examples of curtain wall construction, in which the exterior of the structure is not load bearing , but is instead supported by an interior framework. He included two interior spiral staircases , to make it easier for visitors to reach the observation point in the crown.

The change in structural material from masonry to iron allowed Bartholdi to change his plans for the statue's assembly. He had originally expected to assemble the skin on-site as the masonry pier was built; instead he decided to build the statue in France and have it disassembled and transported to the United States for reassembly in place on Bedloe's Island. In a symbolic act, the first rivet placed into the skin, fixing a copper plate onto the statue's big toe, was driven by United States Ambassador to France Levi P. He was succeeded as chairman of the French committee by Ferdinand de Lesseps , builder of the Suez Canal.

The completed statue was formally presented to Ambassador Morton at a ceremony in Paris on July 4, , and de Lesseps announced that the French government had agreed to pay for its transport to New York. The committees in the United States faced great difficulties in obtaining funds for the construction of the pedestal. The Panic of had led to an economic depression that persisted through much of the decade.

The Liberty statue project was not the only such undertaking that had difficulty raising money: construction of the obelisk later known as the Washington Monument sometimes stalled for years; it would ultimately take over three-and-a-half decades to complete. In the years following the Civil War, most Americans preferred realistic artworks depicting heroes and events from the nation's history, rather than allegorical works like the Liberty statue.

Bartholdi and our French cousins had 'gone the whole figure' while they were about it, and given us statue and pedestal at once. The foundation of Bartholdi's statue was to be laid inside Fort Wood , a disused army base on Bedloe's Island constructed between and Since , it had rarely been used, though during the Civil War, it had served as a recruiting station.

The statue's foundation and pedestal were aligned so that it would face southeast, greeting ships entering the harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. Within months, Hunt submitted a detailed plan, indicating that he expected construction to take about nine months. Hunt's pedestal design contains elements of classical architecture, including Doric portals, as well as some elements influenced by Aztec architecture.


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  • The four sides are identical in appearance. Above the door on each side, there are ten disks upon which Bartholdi proposed to place the coats of arms of the states between and , there were 38 U. Above that, a balcony was placed on each side, framed by pillars. Bartholdi placed an observation platform near the top of the pedestal, above which the statue itself rises.

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    Liberty Girl, Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post Cover

    Financial concerns again forced him to revise his plans; the final design called for poured concrete walls, up to 20 feet 6. His work involved design computations, detailed fabrication and construction drawings, and oversight of construction. Fundraising for the statue had begun in The committee organized a large number of money-raising events.

    She initially declined, stating she could not write a poem about a statue. At the time, she was also involved in aiding refugees to New York who had fled anti-Semitic pogroms in eastern Europe. These refugees were forced to live in conditions that the wealthy Lazarus had never experienced.

    September 4, 1943 Issue of The Saturday Evening Post

    She saw a way to express her empathy for these refugees in terms of the statue. Even with these efforts, fundraising lagged. With the project in jeopardy, groups from other American cities, including Boston and Philadelphia, offered to pay the full cost of erecting the statue in return for relocating it.

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    New Yorkers displayed their new-found enthusiasm for the statue. Two hundred thousand people lined the docks and hundreds of boats put to sea to welcome the ship. Even with the success of the fund drive, the pedestal was not completed until April Immediately thereafter, reassembly of the statue began. Eiffel's iron framework was anchored to steel I-beams within the concrete pedestal and assembled. Nevertheless, no one died during the construction.

    Instead, Bartholdi cut portholes in the torch—which was covered with gold leaf —and placed the lights inside them. A ceremony of dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event. President Cleveland headed the procession, then stood in the reviewing stand to see bands and marchers from across America. General Stone was the grand marshal of the parade.

    The route began at Madison Square , once the venue for the arm, and proceeded to the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan by way of Fifth Avenue and Broadway , with a slight detour so the parade could pass in front of the World building on Park Row. As the parade passed the New York Stock Exchange, traders threw ticker tape from the windows, beginning the New York tradition of the ticker-tape parade.

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    A French flag draped across the statue's face was to be lowered to unveil the statue at the close of Evarts's speech, but Bartholdi mistook a pause as the conclusion and let the flag fall prematurely. The ensuing cheers put an end to Evarts's address. Orator Chauncey M. Depew concluded the speechmaking with a lengthy address. No members of the general public were permitted on the island during the ceremonies, which were reserved entirely for dignitaries. The only females granted access were Bartholdi's wife and de Lesseps's granddaughter; officials stated that they feared women might be injured in the crush of people.

    The restriction offended area suffragists , who chartered a boat and got as close as they could to the island. The group's leaders made speeches applauding the embodiment of Liberty as a woman and advocating women's right to vote. Shortly after the dedication, The Cleveland Gazette , an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue's torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation "in reality":. The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the "liberty" of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed , perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed.

    The idea of the "liberty" of this country "enlightening the world," or even Patagonia , is ridiculous in the extreme. When the torch was illuminated on the evening of the statue's dedication, it produced only a faint gleam, barely visible from Manhattan. The World characterized it as "more like a glowworm than a beacon.

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