The Statue of Liberty’s origins are a very interesting topic. And it’s something that interests me too as I often have painted the Statue of Liberty. Constructed in France by an Italian-French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, lady liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 as a gift from France to the United States. The first model and concept of the statute was made around 1870 and it has been said that the face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor’s mother.
France was to pay for the statue and America was to pay for the pedestal the Statue of Liberty stands on. 90,800 kilos (200,000 pounds) of copper was needed to build the statue. French copper industrialist Eugène Secrétan donated 58,100 kilos and the rest of the metal was donated by copper merchants. Having some assistance from the Eiffel Tower builder, Gustave Eiffel, Bartholdi was able to better engineer a statue that would withstand the test of time. Most of the components of the statue was built in Eiffel’s factory.
While the statue was being built in France, the U.S. was having a hard time coming up with the funds to build the pedestal. Afterall, without a pedestal, where would lady liberty stand? The soft sand of Ellis Island would definitely cause the heavy statue to slowly sink throughout the years. Getting publicity and fundraising with the help of Pulitzer, this would no longer be a problem and would solve the construction of the pedestal and erecting it.
The Statue of Liberty was constructed in France, then desconstructed and shipped to the United States in pieces where it was to be assembled again upon the pedestal. The statue’s head was on exhibit at the Paris World’s Fair in 1878 – as parts of the statue were unpacked from their shipping crates. In 1984 the statue was in bad shape and needed to be repaired. The copper skin was replaced with the copper roof of Bell Labs which resembled the patina of the original. The torch, found to have been leaking water since the 1916 alterations, was replaced with an exact replica of Bartholdi’s torch. The original torch is now a display piece inside the Pedestal lobby. It’s also good to note that access to the torch has been closed off since 1916, even with the new replacement torch installed.
So, with that all said, I love the Statue of Liberty. It is a beautiful sculpture and represents so much for me and the United States. The face of the statue, the power of the figure, the boldness, strength and hope Liberty stands for makes me want to always paint and revisit this beautiful masterpiece and symbolic mascot of freedom.