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Kategorien/Categories:    ›Transatlantic‹  ›EN‹   –  04.07.2011

Liberty Enlightening the World

Colmar is a small city in Alsace, France, boasting a picturesque old town with a labyrinthine layout of alleys and canals. It also is the birthplace of an artist known to most not by name, but only by his most famous creation: Liberty Enlightening the World, aka The Statue of Liberty. A visit to the Bartholdi museum is a must – and not just for patriots.

Poster Statue of LibertyAuguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) no doubt was an artist who liked to think big. Just looking at the numbers can make you dizzy: New York Harbor’s famous torch-toting lady measures toe to torch-tip 46.05 m (152 ft.), or 73.25 m (240 ft.)  if you include the pedestal. The statue weighs 254,000 kg (560 pds.) and is comprised of 300 copper sheets hung on a supportive metal frame (itself an ingenious construction of the “in” engineer/architect of its time, Gustave Eiffel).

Faded photographs show men hammering away at those copper sheets, as the statue took shape in the workshops of the “Art Plumbing and Copper Works” of Mondiut, Gaget, Gouthier et Cie in Paris,  where Liberty was created over a period of nine years. Before shipping it across the Atlantic, the final product was assembled in a trial run. Strangely out of place, the familiar statue towered above the streets of Paris like a friendly version of an early Godzilla.

The Bartholdi Museum allows visitors a glimpse of the immense logistics involved in the construction of the world’s most famous birthday present. More importantly, it also puts the monument in the context of Bartholdi’s entire oeuvre – which is quite impressive in its scope. Located in the artist’s home and birth place, the museum includes original furnishings as well as a number of paintings and drawings from Bartholdi’s numerous travels around the world.

Bartholdi MusuemThe core of the exhibit is made up of his extensive work as a sculptor, displaying both his artistic skill and innovative technical approach. Many pieces of original works are shown there, as are copies, sketches and studies of his most famous works, which can be found in countries around the world. Other Bartholdi works in the U.S. include the Washington and Lafayette Monument and the Lafayette Statue in New York City, the Christopher Columbus statue in Providence, R.I, and the Bartholdi Fountain in Washington, DC.

As to why the ambitious “Liberty Enlightening the World” simply turned into “The Statue of Liberty” is anyone’s guess. Happy Birthday, anyway.