The Statue of Liberty is a copper sculpture located on Liberty Island in New York City, United States of America. The statue was a gift to the people of the United States from the citizens of France. The statue is sculpted into a woman wearing a robe and a crown. Above her head, her right hand holds a torch. In her left arm, the woman holds a tabula ansata, which has Roman inscriptions of July 4, 1776, U.S. Declaration of Independence Day. At her feet lies a broken chain. The statue is a representation of the Roman goddess, Libertas. Although the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, making it 131 years old in 2017, its origin can be traced to 1865.
The statue was designed and built in France. It was then shipped in crates to the USA before it was assembled. It was designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel, who is also behind the building of the Eiffel Tower. When Bartholdi returned from the US in 1877, he aimed at completing the sculpture’s head. After its completion, it was exhibited in the Paris World’s Fair in 1878. Bartholdi was assisted by Viollet-le-Duc, who got ill and died in 1879, leaving no clue on how he intended to continue the sculpturing. In 1880, Bartholdi was joined by Gustave Eiffel, who incorporated iron trusses to continue Le-Duc’s work. When Laboulaye died in 1883, Gustave and Bartholdi had built the statue from the head to the waist.
Design and Style
The symbol of Libertas was commonly used by Americans to represent liberty. Libertas was commonly worshipped by the Romans, especially the emancipated slaves. Bartholdi and Laboulaye decided to incorporate the symbol of Libertas in building the Liberty statue. Laboulaye was no empathetic for revolution, so Bartholdi had to design a sculpture that would be in flowing robes. To give the sculpture a peaceful appearance, Bartholdi chose to design the right hand holding a torch, which symbolizes progress. Some popular accounts argue that Bartholdi designed the sculpture's face to resemble his mother, Charlotte Bartholdi. He designed the sculpture with a strong silhouette, and aimed at making the design broad, bold, and simple yet clear enough to represent a character. Bartholdi had initially decided to let Liberty hold a broken chain in her arms, which he later thought would be quite decisive, especially during the civil wars. He, therefore, decided to the let the chain stay at the feet of the statue, half hidden by the flowing robes, not easy to see while standing on the ground. The tabula ansata in the right hand represents the law.
Dedication and Renovation
The sculpture was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Grover Cleveland presided over the dedication ceremony with over 700,000 people in attendance. The nautical parade began at 12:45 p.m. A French flag covering the face of the sculpture was supposed to be lowered at the end of Evart’s speech. Bartholdi mistook a pause in the speech and lowered the flag too early. No members of the public were allowed to the island. The only women granted access were Bartholdi’s wife and her granddaughter. The sculpture underwent renovation in 1982 to restore corroded surfaces, and fix the head that was not correctly positioned.