Sunday, March 7, 2010

Statue of Liberty

1st image) The June 13, 1885, issue of a New York newspaper announcing the unveiling of the sculpture "Liberty Enlightening the World" in Paris and its transit to the United States; 2nd) The torch and hand of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876 and afterward in Madison Square; 3rd) The face of the statue uncrated on Bedloe's Island in 1885; 4th) Enlarged sectional model of the left hand holding the tablet; 5th) The feet and part of the torch uncrated on what would be renamed Liberty Island in 1885; 6th) The pedestal under construction on the island in New York in 1885.

I had intended to blog about verdigris, but the information and images were rather thin. The best example, however - the Statue of Liberty - led to the visually-rich story of the monument's construction. Designed and patented by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), who commissioned engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) to design the pylon and framework inside, "Liberty Enlightening the World" was a gift from France to the United States on the occasion of the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The first small terracotta model was created in 1870 and is still on display in the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon. The first reduced scale bronze replica remains on an island in the Seine in Paris. The $250,000 needed to construct the statue was raised in France by public donations, an opera performance, and a charitable lottery. In the U.S., the funds to construct the base were raised through benefit performances, art exhibits, auctions, prize fights, campaigns by Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911), and the 50-cent tickets to climb the torch at the Centennial Exhibition (see 2nd image).

The Statue of Liberty had arrived by frigate in 214 crates containing 350 sections. After 11 months in storage awaiting the building of the pedestal, it was erected in 4 months. The 151' statue is sheathed with pure copper (hence the verdigris), with the exception of the torch, which was painted with gold leaf and later outfitted with window panes. It initially functioned as a lighthouse, was damaged by German sabotage in 1916, and was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1984.

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