Frederic Auguste Bartholdi & the Statue of Liberty, both courtesy of Wikimedia
CAIRO – 4 October 2017: October 4 marks the day the designer of the Statue of Liberty, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, passed away at the age of 70 in 1904.
Born in Colmar, France, on April 2, 1834, Bartholdi was a dedicated artist since his youth, learning to paint in his teens. Originally wanting to become an architect, Bartholdi decided to follow his interest in art in Paris, where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under the workshop of Ary Scheffer who convinced him to become a sculptor.
After his first sculpture of Colmar General Rapp was erected in 1856, Bartholdi was led by his curiosity of the pyramids and Sphinx to Egypt. He was in awe of the colossal sculptures present there, and wished to create things just as grand as the wonders of the ancient world.
By 1865, he and a group of other artists wished to honor the Franco-American alliance of 1778, urged in part by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. French anti-slavery activist, Edouard de Laboulay, remarked that a statue representing liberty should be built for America, and Bartholdi liked the idea. He then began designing his own idea for a magnificent statue in 1870, and set about acquiring funds from across France and America, funding the project on his own initiative.
Bartholdi was particularly inspired by his first trip to New York City a year later, where he remarked how grand it would be if a statue greeted visitors to America. He saw a tiny little island that was the perfect spot for the monument. Work began piece by piece, with the head and shoulders completed by 1878, displayed in Paris. Between 1881 and 1884 the entire statue had been assembled, and work on the pedestal was next.
The statue arrived in New York on June 17, 1885, to the delight of the American people. It took until 1886 for the statue to be properly constructed, as a crew of immigrants began work on reassembling the statue. Construction with true cooperation between France’s minds and America’s hands, the statue was then finally completed on October 28, 1886. One million New York citizens went to view the unveiling of the spectacular new moment, celebrating with parades and raised flags.
On that day, according to Claudia Glenn Dowling of Life magazine, Bartholdi remarked; “It is a consolation to know that this statue will exist thousands of years from now, long after our names shall have been forgotten.”