the Statue of Liberty – Under the Skin
On June 19th of 1885 the French frigate Isère anchored in the sea of Bedloe’s Island in New York. In its holds was kept an exceptional load as well as precious, 214 crates of robust wood, well constructed and placed, that contained the complete all sections to build the most famous statue in the world. Left the port of Rouen in France May 21, 1885 the White Isère reached the Azores Islands in Portugal on June 2 and then continued the journey across the ocean and enduring storms and strong winds to transport the Statue of Liberty to New York.
Gift by France to the United States, in memory of the French-American friendship and the American liberation from slavery, the statue would become the most famous monument internationally recognized as a symbol of freedom and democracy.
The author of this extraordinary work of art is the Alsatian sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) that came to define the statue after a long period of study and inspiration before then. The most staunch supporter of this hexose project was Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye (1811-1883) professor of history and constitutional law at the college of France in Paris, who conceived the idea of a monumental gift to commemorate the centenary of independence of the United States.
Edward Moran – the approach of the Statue of Liberty in New York Bay, 1885.
Terracotta sketch by Bartholdi
the Sancarlone in Arona, Italy.
Statue of Liberty at Pont de Grenelle in Paris – (Photo by A. Felice 2014)
Technically Bartholdi made a series of sketches in plaster, including the famous Modèle du Comité 1.75 meters tall, cast in bronze, which was presented at an official ceremony on November 6, 1875 at the Grand Hotel du Louvre. Subsequently, in the operational phase he executed models to progressive enlargement with the use of pantographs and a large bozzettone a quarter of the full-size final work such as the one today placed in Paris on Pont de Grenelle about 11,5 meters high.
Finally, to make the final model, in some large sections, the pantograph was not sufficient. So they proceeded with the direct measurements through a plumb mounted on parallelepipeds scale mounted around the bozzettone and another one (four times large) on the armature wood for full-size plaster model. Above the wooden armor the final modek was modeled directly on the plaster. The individual piece measuring about 3 meters tall, and about 300 main points and over 1000 additional measurements are required. Over 9000 with compass and meter. On the armor of wood Bartholdi and his assistants put plaster and burlap, and proceeded with the direct modeling.
Making of full size plaster model (the second from right is Bartholdi).
On the full-size plaster model, already divided into large sections, were made wooden molds constituted by a warping of boards longitudinal and transverse, as the hull of a boat, which faithfully followed the shape of the surfaces of the plaster model. The large copper plates 2.5 mm thick were heated and banter with a large series of ‘hammer-beater’ and mallets within individual wood mold, this process of hammering on the reverse side of metal is called repoussé. All the work was constantly followed and corrected by the indefatigable Bartholdi always present in the foundry.
Workers posing for the photograph during the making.
On the left the wooden mold and a copper piece modeled.
Workers hammering the copper sheet inside the wooden molds.
On the left the small sketch, in the middle the quarter model.
Bartholdi (first from left) at foundry Gauget et Gauthier in Paris during the modeling of the copper sheets.
In 1876, the first section of the right hand with the torch and the flame was completed and sent on display in the United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Then from 1877 to 1882 was exhibited at the Madison Square Park in New York before being sent back to Paris.
Proceeding with slow and difficult assembly the work was erected. A large and heavy wooden scaffolding allow completion of the statue. The workers of Gauget & Gautier mounted the right arm too close to the head and this caused problems in subsequent years.
The head completed
and the Eiffel’s armor in Paris.
The statue just completed in Paris.
On 28 October 1886, the statue of Liberty Enlightening the World finally completed, was inaugurated in front of the president of the United States Cleveland, the French consul, the author Auguste Bartholdi, many great figures and a big crowd in a solemn ceremony.
The Statue of Liberty how looks today in Liberty Island, New York.
The flame how it looked with the Borglum changes
Plaster full size model of the flame.
Resin mold in piece useful to make the new flame.
The new flame before gold leafing.
Mounting the new flame on the statue, 1984.
All seven layers of paint were removed and the internal structure of the iron was treated with anticorrosive before applying a new coat of paint. Even the green paint that covered the internal surface of the copper was removed and replaced with a new paint. The method of cleaning the paint was different between the two sides in the iron and copper, work was done mainly with sanding with fine sand or aluminum oxide (non-risky materials for oxidation future). However, it was also developed an innovative cleaning system consists of applying liquid nitrogen on the copper surface and by freezing and thereby shrinking off the layers of paint. A solution of sodium bicarbonate was used to clean the whole. The outer surface should be immediately cleaned with deionized water because otherwise the sodium bicarbonate would have affect the original green patina outside. The used protective against oxidation of the metal in a marine environment was a based zinc oxide protective called IT531.
Scaffold on the statue during
of the restoring on 1984.
The statue during the restoring.
Were replaced elements of the armor already changed during the restoration of 1937-38. New elements are now in low-strength and low-carbon stainless steel 316L.
The STATUE in NUMBERS
AN AMAZING LADY LIBERTY's TOUR in PARIS
For those who wisiting Paris and wanted to discover the origins of the statue and the love of the French for their magnanimous project, I recommend to discover the statue hidden in various areas of the city. As a delicious appetizer before the final meeting with the original statue in the bay of New York.
First step in Musèe d’Orsay where you can see a small bronze model by Frederic Bartholdi as a welcome in the main gallery.
The Statue of liberty small bronze at Musèe d’Orsay (photo by A. Felice 2014).
Then, by a ten minutes walking to the Pont de L’alma, you can admire a full size gold bronze copy of the flame domed by the United States in 1986 in occasion of the centenary of the statue. Today the flame has acquired a symbolic value in memory of Princess Diana, who died in de l’alma tunnel a few tens of meters from the flame.
With a bit of energy it is worth continuing the walking towards the Eiffel Tower (built by the same author of the armor of the statue of liberty) which is very close and then a quarter of an hour to walk up reaching Pont de Grenelle where, on the Allèe des Cygnes, an island on the Seine, you will find the largest bronze Statue of Liberty in Paris, 11.50 meters high. It was gifted on november 15 1889.
The flame at Pont de l’Alma, Paris (photo by A. Felice 2014).
The statue at Pont de Grenelle (photo by A. Felice 2014).
In the same city there is also a beautiful a small size bronze copy in the Jardin de Luxembourg which was unveiled in 1906.
The statue at the Jardin de Luxembourg.
An interesting visit to the Musèe des Arts et Métiers give you the opportunity to see the original plaster made by Bartholdi (high 286 cm.) and the bronze copy make from the plaster of the statue. Also a fantastic diorama and an extraordinary scale maquette that reconstructs the stages of construction at the Gauget et Gauthier Atelier.
Plaster model at the Musèe des Arts et Metiers (photo by A. Felice 2009).
The FELICECALCHI'S LADY LIBERTY REPLICA
Our Statue of Liberty Replica
We are passionate about the extraordinary history of this statue. As an icon it is present in everyone’s memory and becomes the symbol of an entire nation. Getting this inspiration we’ve made a unique exclusive replica.
This Statue of Liberty reduction replica is made in our Workshop and it is available to buy.