Archive for June, 2009

by Dahni

© Copyright 6/22/09

all rights reserved


What’s in a face? What is in the face of the Statue of Liberty? Though this face can be seen in the finished work by the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, how this face came to be, is a tale of great controversy. Indeed, what’s in a face?

When it comes to sculpture, there can be little doubt that an artist formerly trained in the medium would be influenced by imagery or perceived imagery of the past. Evidence to support this for the vision of the Statue of Liberty can be clearly seen as a predominant influence from The Colossus of Rhodes, considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World.’

Preserved in Greek anthologies of poetry is what is believed to be the genuine dedication text for the Colossus:

To you, o Sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus, when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with the spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did they kindle the lovely torch of freedom and independence. For to the descendants of Herakles belongs dominion over sea and land.

With this dedication we see the ancient seeds having been sown out of which the Statue of Liberty would grow, associated with freedom, independence and liberty. The word ‘liberty’ was taken from the French word līber meaning free. The word origin was between 1325-1375 and would have been known and used by Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. līber + ty = liberty.

It was originally believed that the statue of Rhodes straddled the entrance to the harbor.

No ancient accounts mention such a pose. It is doubtful that the ancient Greeks would have posed the sun god in such a manner. To construct this statue in this way would mean shutting down the harbor during the construction. The given height of the statue and the width of the harbor mouth, make the picture more impossible than improbable. It is known that the statue fell after 56 years of standing, most likely due to an earthquake. Had it spanned the harbor as in the picture, when it fell, it would have blocked the harbor.

Face2Other studies show the statue stood erect and father east of the harbor or even further inland.

No one knows for sure what the colossus looked like or where it was located. Judging From written accounts, many scholars believe it was a standing figure holding a torch in one hand. Other accounts testify that its face was modeled after Alexander the Great.

Face3It should be noted that Bartholdi could have seen these old images or ones similar, which both display the spires over the head which represent the rays of the sun

The design, posture and dimensions of the Statue of Liberty, are based on what those of the late 19th century believed Colossus looked like. So with these images and historical evidence, we know how the Statue of Liberty came to have a raised torch, her association with water and the possibility of its purpose being a lighthouse or beacon. We know the spires around her crown were representative of rays of the sun, and that the ancient god of the sun was an inspiration.

But the face of the Colossus of Rhodes and the face on the Statue of Liberty are full of contrasts and speculation.

The word Libertas is Latin for Liberty and was associated with the ancient Roman goddess bearing the same name. The Roman goddess was the embodiment of liberty and such a likeness exists in the capitol of the United States.


The goddess Libertas, is shown with customary sunshine about her head and a freedom cap. To her right is the Eagle and is shown with the goddess on Roman coins. She was particularly endeared to slaves who appealed to her for liberty and freedom, and it was Libertas that was the decider of their empowerment of liberty and freedom.

That the face of the statue of Liberty is that of a woman is without question. Though the statue’s pose is most likely the derivative of the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue to the sun god (male), it is most likely Libertas, the goddess of Liberty, a female that is displayed on the final work.

Thus we know our Lady; the Statue of Liberty is a combination of imagery associated with the sun god at Rhodes and Libertas the goddess of liberty. We know the spires in her crown represent the rays of light from the sun, her torch is a beacon or the statue is a lighthouse to liberty and freedom. We know water, freedom, liberty, and slavery are associated with this statue. So much we know, but what about her face?

Click here to: Lady Liberty “Hows She Doing?” – What’s in a Face Part 2

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by Dahni

© Copyright 6/16/09

all rights reserved

Hey, it’s easy to lose something you don’t even know you had. Do you want liberty? Do you think we have it? Wouldn’t a good place to start to find the answers be, in understanding what liberty is? What better place to begin than with our own state of Liberty or Lady Liberty! Lady Liberty – How’s She Doing?


“To the sculptor form is everything and is nothing.

It is nothing without the spirit – with the idea it is everything.”

Victor Hugo, May 13, 1885

There can be little doubt that most people in this country are familiar with the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, whether they have actually seen her or not. Most know that it was a gift from France and most could say that the guy who built the Eiffel Tower had something to do with it. Not a few would say she represents liberty in this country and perhaps several could quote a few lines from some poem about the “teeming masses yearning to be free.” But what is she really all about, how did she come to be built, what did she mean then and what does she mean now? How’s she doing?

There is so much depth of understanding which can be gained from this monumental project (yep, pun intended). It is so significant to everyone today that this will be an ongoing work until it is finished. We begin with a background sketch, ‘The birth of an idea.’

The United States of America won its freedom from the British, the most powerful military force in the world at the time. WE had help from several sources and France provided arms, ships, men and even money to our cause. George Washington was a close friend of the Marquis de Lafayette that also served as a high ranking officer in our Army. This alliance between our two nations would not soon be forgotten.

At the end of the War Between the States in 1865, several French intellectuals opposed to Napoleon III, met at a small dinner party in France. Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, hosted the affair. Over dinner they discussed their admiration of how the Americans had resisted oppression and succeeded in winning their freedom. It was the same type of democracy they were seeking for their own country.

Talk centered on the historic ties and love of liberty the two nations had in common. There was “a genuine flow of sympathy,” between France and America, “the two sisters.” as Laboulaye noted.

Laboulaye commented in light of our centennial just 11 years hence:

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people in France gave the United States

a great monument as a lasting memorial to independence

and thereby showed that the French government

was also dedicated to the idea of human liberty?

Attending this dinner was Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, a successful, 31-year-old sculptor. Laboulaye’s question stuck in his mind for many years. In recalling this dinner party years later, Bartholdi said, the idea, “interested me so deeply that it remained fixed in my memory.” Thus began the vision for the Statue of Liberty.

In 1871, Bartholdi sailed for New York. In writing about his arrival, he said:

“The picture that is presented to the view when one arrives in New York is marvelous, when, after some days of voyaging, in the pearly radiance of a beautiful morning is revealed the magnificent spectacle of those immense cities [Brooklyn and Manhattan], of those rivers extending as far as the eye can reach, festooned with masts and flags; when one awakes, so to speak, in the midst of that interior sea covered with vessels… it is thrilling. It is, indeed, the New World, which appears in its majestic expanse, with the ardor of its glowing life.”

Bartholdi  believed the New York Harbor to be the perfect location for the statue. It is,

“where people get their first view of the New World.”

He also believed he found the perfect spot, which was at the time called, Bedloe’s Island, in the middle of the bay.

“The island belongs to the government; it’s on national territory, belonging to all the states, just opposite the Narrows, which are, so to speak, the gateway to America.”

Bartholdi, truly loved America and America loved this man with his enthusiasm for US, his charm, and intriguing sketch and model of ‘Liberty Enlightening the Word.’



Perhaps this was the sketch he showed others in trying to drum up support? His model could have been of clay or more likely a 21” model cast in bronze to resemble the look of cooper.

“The Statue was born for this place which inspired its conception,” wrote Bartholdi. “May God be pleased to bless my efforts and my work and to crown it with the success, the duration, and moral influence which it ought to have.”

Note in the background Brooklyn Bridge, then under construction; it was opened in 1883.



The original clay model was completed by Bartholdi in 1875 and approved by the Franco-American Union. It is in the Bartholdi Museum in Colmar, France. The other image above is one of two original casts by the sculptor, registered in the United States Patent Office, which is now in the lobby of the Main Office of The New York Trust Company.



Many prominent citizens were impressed including: President Ulysses S. Grant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Horace Greeley and Senator Charles Sumner.

Everywhere he went, Bartholdi was impressed with The United States of America and he was himself, persuasive and impressive, but no one was willing to commit to a building site or lay out the money.

Back in France and four years later in 1875, with his own country entering into the Third Republic, Bartholdi decided that “the lady’s” time had come. The costs estimated to be so high the Franco-American Union was formed to raise the necessary funds for the project from both countries. It was agreed that France would pay to build and ship the statue and America would pay for its foundation and her pedestal.

Almost from the start, both countries found it difficult to raise the necessary funds to build her, bring her home and set her out for the world to see. In France, public fees, various forms of entertainment, and a lottery were among the methods used to raise funds. In the United States, benefit theatrical events, art exhibitions, auctions and prize fights assisted in providing needed funds. But work began in earnest.



Just in time for our country’s 100 year birthday, the 30 foot arm of Liberty arrived in Philadelphia, 1876. Visitors could climb a ladder to the balcony of the torch for fifty cents.  People started to become interested in the project when they realized Liberty was the first statue they could climb inside. After the exhibition, the arm was sent back to France.


Before she was finished, Lady Liberty would grow almost literally out of the pavement in France, totally assembled then taken down to be shipped to the United States and reassembled at her final place in New York Harbor. This was only the beginning. The story continues.

Click here to: Lady Liberty – How’s She Doing? – What’s in a Face?

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Welcome to Our Lady Liberty! How’s She Doing?

This blog is for posting history, trivia, information and resources about this experiment called:
The United States of America

This is #1 of 6 blogs all associated with each other. Click on the links below to visit these blogs
#1 of 6 blogs Our Lady Liberty (You are Here) to Illuminate provide information, history, resources and the initial tools WE need
#2 of 6 is An American Eagle to Inspire – tell a story about a story that comes true
#3 of 6 is The American Eagle Service The American Eagle Service to Initiate – take action and make a story come true
#4 of 6 is American Eagle News to Inform – provide news and announcements concerning WE the people
#5 of 6 is American Eagle Store to Invest – purchase stuff and to contribute to, WE the People
#6 of 6 is 1 of WE Project to Incubate – a national project to encourage and nurture our wee little 1’s of WE  🙂

History, facts, pictures and information about how we came to have The Statue of Liberty; what she meant then and what she means today.

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