BARTHOLDI, Frédéric-Auguste

Colmar, Haut-Rhin 1834 - Paris 1904

Maker: Monduit

La Liberté éclairant le monde ou Statue de la Liberté

Liberty Enlightening the World, aka Statue of Liberty


hammered copper


Dimensions (HxWxD): H. 151 ft. 1 in.

Photo credit: ph Wikimedia,

© Artist:


  •, consulted November 26, 2012:
  • In 1865, the academician Edouard de Laboulaye (1811-1883) first put forward the idea of France giving a prestigious gift to the United States to celebrate the centenary of American independence and to seal the friendship of the two nations. For Laboulaye and his friends, who were supporters of the moderate Republican party, this gesture also sent a message of opposition to the imperial regime of Napoleon III and to his foreign policy.
  • The project was entrusted to the young Bartholdi, and was entirely financed by private funding. He went to New York where he presented his idea of an enormous statue in the classical tradition of the Colossus of Rhodes. The first completed element of the work ? the hand holding the torch ? was unveiled at the 1876 Universal Exhibition in Philadelphia. The head of the statue was exhibited at the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris, where its appearance would be one of the main attractions.
  • Construction had started in 1875, even before the finance was in place, at the metalwork foundry of Gaget, Gauthier et Cie located in Paris' 17th arrondissement. The famous architect Viollet-le-Duc was originally responsible for the design of the structure, but after his death in 1879 it was, in the end, Gustave Eiffel who designed the metal "skeleton" that would support the many copper plates (preferred to bronze because of its lighter weight) that shaped the statue.
  • The final assembly began in 1884, and this 46 meters colossus could be seen gradually rising up above the Monceau plain. Just imagine! For a few weeks, one could admire the famous New York Statue of Liberty in the very heart of Paris. The elements were disassembled in early 1885 and packed into more than two hundred crates to cross the Atlantic to their final destination, arriving on 19 June 1885. But it still needed a pedestal? The construction of this was behind schedule and the Americans had difficulty in raising the funds required to finish it. But the pedestal was finally ready in the spring of 1886 and the statue was inaugurated on 28 October of that year.
  • Within a very short space of time, the symbolic aspect of the Statue of Liberty eclipsed the initial meaning of the work ? the celebration of America's Independence. Placed at the entrance to New York Harbour on Beldoe Island (later re-named Liberty Island), Bartholdi's work would welcome generations of emigrants as they arrived by boat in search of a better life. It is this aspect that endures to this day, America having appropriated this gift long ago to represent the ideal of democracy and liberty. Furthermore, in 1903, the following extract from a poem by Emma Lazarus was engraved on the pedestal:
  • "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
  • With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
  • Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
  • The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
  • Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
  • I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
  •, 26 novembre 2012:
  • 1924, October 15, The Statue is designated a US National Monument
  • 1984, the Statue of Liberty is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site


  • See on the web: