Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

  • Liberty Enlightening the World.

    BARTHOLDI Frédéric Auguste (1834 - 1904)

  • Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty, in the workshop of the founder Gayet, rue de Chazelles.

    DARGAUD Victor (1850 - 1913)

  • Interior view of the Monduit workshops during the creation of the hand of the Statue of Liberty in 1876.

    FLEMISH Albert

Liberty Enlightening the World.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - T. Ollivier

To close

Title: Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty, in the workshop of the founder Gayet, rue de Chazelles.

Author : DARGAUD Victor (1850 - 1913)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 46 - Width 32

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage place: Carnavalet Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bullozsite web

Picture reference: 07-511050 / P1964

Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty, in the workshop of the founder Gayet, rue de Chazelles.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

To close

Title: Interior view of the Monduit workshops during the creation of the hand of the Statue of Liberty in 1876.

Author : FLEMISH Albert (-)

Creation date : 1876

Date shown: 1876

Dimensions: Height 26 - Width 21

Technique and other indications: Albumen print.

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. G. Ojedasite web

Picture reference: 01-020534 / Pho2001-3-5

Interior view of the Monduit workshops during the creation of the hand of the Statue of Liberty in 1876.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

Publication date: September 2008

Historical context

Franco-American friendship in focus

A century after the

decisive support

brought by the troops of Rochambeau and La Fayette to insurgents Americans, the French decide to make a strong gesture to commemorate the centenary of

independence of 1776

. Édouard Laboulaye, a keen observer of American political life and a determined supporter of the Union against the Confederates, was the initiator of this project, born in 1870 and entrusted to his friend sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904).

In France, the Second Empire then withered away and

soon inglorious fall against the Prussians

; the

republic is established

, but timidly, without really believing it. The United States, meanwhile, is booming after five years of civil war known in France as the Civil War (1861-1865).

Liberty Enlightening the World is supposed not only to consolidate the historical bonds between French and Americans, but especially to recall the triumph of the ideas of the Lights in America and in France. Bartholdi imagined as early as 1871 implanting the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe Island, in New York Bay. The statue therefore plays an important symbolic role in the acclimatization of the republican regime in France.

Image Analysis

Work of art and technical feat

The reduced version of the statue, in terracotta, kept at the Blérancourt museum, is a replica of the first piece produced in 1870 by Bartholdi. The debate at the time centered on the face chosen by the artist as a model: a woman he knew (the widow of Isaac Singer?), His own mother, a young girl seen on a barricade erected during the

coup d'etat of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852

? Bartholdi left in doubt. The work is strikingly striking with the severity of the face, almost disembodied, overhung by its pointed crown. The superimposed drapes and the torch held at arm's length represent a real technical challenge - which, as much as the delay in funding, explains why the statue was not finally inaugurated until October 28, 1886.

The oil painted by Victor Dargaud (circa 1850-1913), although quite small in size, alone demonstrates the size of the company. The metal structure serving as a support for the copper cladding was entrusted to Gustave Eiffel, already known for the construction of infrastructure, and soon world famous for the tower he erected in the Parisian sky in 1889. The silhouette fixed around it 'a steel framework stands out against a decor typical of both the Haussmannian capital (building on the left) and older Paris (wine trade on the right). The rue de Chazelles, located in the XVIIe district behind the Parc Monceau, is overwhelmed by the colossal height of the monument (46 meters).

The photograph taken by Eugène Flamand in the workshops of the Monduit firm depicts this gigantism by reducing the size of the hand to the torch on a human scale. This part of the statue literally bursts through the roof, sucking the gaze towards it and upwards. On the left, we can see the plaster that was used as a cast for the hand itself: the first plaster broke in March 1876, proof of unprecedented technical concerns. A scale model of the casting, in the background, gives an idea of ​​the progress of the work in the workshop. The workers appear to be working on fine-tuning the assembly and polishing the copper - the whole thing will soon be dismantled for shipment to the United States in no less than 210 crates.

Interpretation

The statue of symbols

The Statue of Liberty, quite massive overall, is balanced thanks to the posture imparted to it by the sculptor, with the right leg set back. Allegory if there is one, it contains many symbols. The seven points of its crown would be either the continents or the oceans - and therefore represent the world. The tablets held on the left arm are inscribed with the date of independence, July 4, 1776, and correspond to the triumph of the right. The flame recalls the Enlightenment, and therefore the demand for freedom that marked this thought. The chains broken at its feet are those of slavery, the practice of which has bound traders and producers of both nations for two centuries.

From the time of its creation, the Statue of Liberty has been an artistic, intellectual and technical phenomenon, arousing admiration and drawing crowds. It took no less than five years to collect in France and the United States the sums necessary for its completion, through major national fundraising campaigns and real fairground events. The head is presented at Champ-de-Mars, during the

Universal Exhibition of 1878

. The Hand in the Torch is at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in the fall of 1876: visitors could already access the balcony around the torch for 50 cents. In 1886, at the time of the official inauguration, the republic was definitively settled in France, consecrating the triumph of the republican ideas of the Alsatian Bartholdi.

  • United States
  • Paris
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Freedom
  • New York

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The Statue of Liberty"

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