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Statue Of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Statue Of Liberty: Liberty illuminating the world known as the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous monuments in New York, the United States and around the world. It is located on Liberty Island south of Manhattan Island, next to the mouth of the Hudson River and near Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French government to the US government in 1886 to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence of the United States and as a sign of friendship between the two nations. It was inaugurated on October 28, 1886, in the presence of the American president of the time, Grover Cleveland. The statue is the work of the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and the internal structure was designed by the engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel.2 The French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was in charge of the choice of copper used for the construction of the statue. On October 15, 1924, the statue was declared a national monument of the United States and on October 15, 1965, Ellis Island was added. Since 1984 it is considered a World Heritage Site by Unesco.2

The Statue of Liberty, in addition to being an important monument in New York City, became a symbol in the United States and represents, on a more general level, freedom and emancipation with respect to oppression. Since its inauguration in 1886, the statue was the first vision that European immigrants had when they arrived in the United States after crossing the Atlantic Ocean. In architectural terms, the statue recalls the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was nominated for the new seven wonders of the world, where she was a finalist. The name assigned by Unesco is National Monument Statue of Liberty. Since June 10, 1933, the National Parks Service of the United States has been responsible for its administration.


Gift for the United States

The French jurist and politician, author of Paris in America, Eduardo Laboulaye, had the idea that France offered a gift to the United States as a gift for the commemoration of the centenary of American independence, as a reminder of the long friendship between both countries and to guarantee the Franco-American alliance. In a conversation with Laboulaye, his friend the young Alsatian sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi had told him.

At that time, the United States had just emerged from the civil war that lasted from 1861 to 1865 and the country was in the midst of reconstruction. Bartholdi was hired to design a statue, which should end in 1876, the centennial date of American independence. In 1870, Bartholdi carved the first sketch in terracotta and a model that did not work,  which is currently in the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon. That same year, France went to war with Prussia and had to stop the project. On May 10, 1871, France had to cede the territory of Alsace-Lorraine to the German Empire. The public and the French government were disappointed by the sympathy of the United States towards the Germans, who had a significant number of residents on American soil. The project was again partially paralyzed because of the political problems of the Third Republic, which was still considered by many as a temporary arrangement and who hoped for a return of the monarchy. The idea of offering a representation of freedom in a sister republic for France, on the other side of the Atlantic, played an important role in the struggle for the maintenance of the French republic.

In June 1871, Bartholdi traveled to the United States. During the trip, he chose the island of Bedloe, (later called the island of Liberty) as the location of the statue and also tried to get followers across the Atlantic. On July 18, 1871, he met with the then Ulysses S. Grant president in New York.

Models for the statue

Choice of the face

There are several hypotheses by historians about the model that could have been used to determine the face of the statue, although none of them is really definitive so far.6 Among the possible inspirations for the face of the statue is Isabella Eugenie Boyer, widow of millionaire inventor Isaac Singer.
According to other sources, Bartholdi would have been inspired by the face of his mother, Charlotte Bartholdi (1801-1891), and is the most considered hypothesis until the present, National Geographic magazine supported this possibility, indicating that the sculptor never explained or denied This resemblance to his mother.Other versions maintain that Bartholdi would have wanted to reproduce the face of a girl perched on a barricade holding a torch, the day after Napoleon III’s coup d’état. Perhaps he simply made a synthesis of several female faces, in order to give a neutral and impersonal image of Liberty.

Inspiration abroad

During a visit to Egypt, Bartholdi had to do a job on the Suez Canal. This project was started under the direction of the French businessman and diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps, who later became one of his best friends. Bartholdi imagined a great lighthouse, which would be at the entrance of the canal, which would indicate the routes. The lighthouse was designed as the image with classic appearance (stole, sandals, facial expression) of the goddess Libertas of Roman mythology, the divinity of freedom. The light from the lighthouse was intended to shine through a bandage placed around the top of the lighthouse, and the idea of a torch held in the air, towards the sky, arose. Bartholdi presented the project to the jedive Ismail Pacha in 1867 and again in 1869, but the project was never approved. The drawings of the project entitled Egypt brings light to Asia, closely resemble the Statue of Liberty, although Bartholdi said that the New York monument was not reused, but an original work.
As for the coronation of the head, Bartholdi opted for a diadem of solar rays, instead of the characteristic Phrygian cap with which he had always dressed the goddess Libertas. The use of this symbol in this type of representations has as precedents two works of the Spanish sculptor Ponciano Ponzano, located in Madrid -in the Congress of Deputies and in the Pantheon of Illustrious Men- and made in 1848 and 1855, respectively.

Details of the structure

By mutual agreement between France and the United States, the latter would carry out the construction of the base of the monument, while France would be responsible for the construction of the statue and its subsequent assembly once the pieces were transported to US soil. However, financial problems arose on both sides of the Atlantic.

In France, the campaign for the promotion of the statue began in the autumn of 1875. It was the foundation in 1874 of the so-called Franco-American Union, which was in charge of organizing the collection of funds for the construction of the monument. All the media of the time were used for that purpose: articles in the press, shows, banquets, taxes, lotteries, etc. Several French cities, the General Council, the Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Orient of France and thousands of individuals made donations for the construction of the statue. There was a total number of 100,000 donors, before the end of 1875, the funds amounted to a total of 400,000 francs, but the budget was subsequently increased to 1 billion francs at the time. that the total funds were collected in France. Meanwhile, in the United States, there were theatrical presentations, art exhibitions, auctions, as well as professional boxing matches to raise funds for construction.

Meanwhile, in France, Bartholdi looked for an engineer to be in charge of the design of the internal structure of the statue, in copper. Gustave Eiffel was hired to carry out this task, in addition to creating an internal tower that supported the statue and designing an internal secondary skeleton that would allow the copper skin to remain in an upright position. The pieces of copper were built in the workshops of the company «Gaget, Gauthier et Cie», in 1878. The copper plates were a donation of Pierre-Eugene Secrétan. Precision work was entrusted to the engineer Maurice Koechlin, Eiffel’s man of trust, with whom he had also worked in the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

Bartholdi hoped that the statue would be completed and assembled by July 4, 1876, the centennial date of the independence of the United States. There was a delay at the beginning of construction and then some problems during the construction period delayed the work: the plaster of the hand broke in March 1876. The latter, with part of the arm, was exposed in September from 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, visitors were able to climb a staircase that led to the balcony located around the torch paying only 50 cents. Photographs, posters and models of the statue were sold during the exhibition. The money raised was used to complete the works. Two years later, in June 1878, the head of the statue was shown to the public in the gardens of the Field of Mars on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in Paris, where visitors could enter the head and climb up to the crown using a 43 meters staircase.

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