Striking images show parts of the Statue of Liberty on display in Paris6 min read

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These are the remarkable unearthed photographs which reveal the little-known history of one of the world’s most celebrated sculptures. 

The images show the unmistakeable head of the Statue of Liberty on display in Paris, France as well as her disembodied arm and lofty torch exhibited in Philadelphia and Madison Square Park, Manhattan.

Today we know the Statue of Liberty as the iconic sculpture that stands at 305 feet tall in New York City.

But before the statue was gifted to the US from France in 1885, she had spent several years being exhibited across the world in pieces.

The face of the Statue of Liberty awaiting installation in New York in 1885 in an image from the New York Public Library. According to popular accounts, the face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor's mother. Bartholdi designed the figure with a strong uncomplicated silhouette so it would be instantly recognizable from its outline alone

The face of the Statue of Liberty awaiting installation in New York in 1885 in an image from the New York Public Library. According to popular accounts, the face was modeled after that of Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi, the sculptor’s mother. Bartholdi designed the figure with a strong uncomplicated silhouette so it would be instantly recognizable from its outline alone

Toes and the base of the torch being prepared for final installation in New York, 1885, from the New York Public Library. In a symbolic act, the first rivet placed into the skin, fixing a copper plate onto the statue's big toe, was driven by United States Ambassador to France Levi P. Morton

Toes and the base of the torch being prepared for final installation in New York, 1885, from the New York Public Library. In a symbolic act, the first rivet placed into the skin, fixing a copper plate onto the statue’s big toe, was driven by United States Ambassador to France Levi P. Morton

The statue being displayed in Paris after it was first completed

The colossal hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia

Left: The statue being displayed in Paris after it was first completed, France, 1884. Right: The colossal hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty on display at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876 taken from the National Library of Congress. The original torch was removed and replaced in 1986 with the current one, whose flame is covered in 24-karat gold. The torch reflects the Sun’s rays in daytime and is lighted by floodlights at night

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When the colossal Statue of Liberty was unveiled in Liberty Island in New York Harbor, New York on 28th October 1886, she immediately became the tallest structure in the city.

But for many years before that, the construction of Lady Liberty hung in the balance and the statue was displayed in its various disembodied parts in a desperate bid to raise money for her completion. 

French Sculptor Frederic Bartholdi set about designing the Statue of Liberty – a neoclassical sculpture of the Roman god of freedom – but due to the troubled political situation in France, work did not commence until the 1870s.

It was agreed that the French government would finance the statue whilst the US government would provide the site and build its pedestal.

When Bartholdi began making the Statue of Liberty in 1876, he completed construction of the right torch-bearing arm – before the statue was even fully designed.

Bartholdi deliberately planned this so that Lady Liberty’s extended right arm could be exhibited publically at international expositions to raise attention and urgent money for the sculpture’s construction.

Fundraising had proven difficult and work on the statue was being threatened by a severe lack of funds.

The Statue of Liberty’s torch-bearing arm was immediately shown at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Curious visitors helped raise money for the sculpture by paying to climb a ladder in the statue’s forearm on the torch balcony. 

Construction of the copper skin for the statue in the 1870s from the New York Public Library. Eiffel opted not to use a completely rigid structure, which would force stresses to accumulate in the skin and lead eventually to cracking. To prevent erosion, the skin was insulated with asbestos impregnated with shellac

Construction of the copper skin for the statue in the 1870s from the New York Public Library. Eiffel opted not to use a completely rigid structure, which would force stresses to accumulate in the skin and lead eventually to cracking. To prevent erosion, the skin was insulated with asbestos impregnated with shellac

The Statue of Liberty towering over rooftops in Paris after it was first completed in 1884. The completed statue was formally presented to US Ambassador Morton at a ceremony in Paris on July 4, 1884, and de Lesseps announced that the French government had agreed to pay for its transport to New York

The Statue of Liberty towering over rooftops in Paris after it was first completed in 1884. The completed statue was formally presented to US Ambassador Morton at a ceremony in Paris on July 4, 1884, and de Lesseps announced that the French government had agreed to pay for its transport to New York

Then from 1876 to 1882, the same arm was displayed at Madison Square Park in Manhattan to promote the sculpture to New Yorkers.

Lady Liberty’s head and shoulders were completed next in 1878 and these disembodied pieces immediately went on display at the Paris International Exposition.

Similarly, visitors paid for tickets to explore inside the statue – and guests could also buy entry to go behind the scenes at Statue of Liberty’s construction workshops.

Between 1881 and 1884, the entire statue – after the right arm was sent back across the Atlantic – was eventually assembled in a public park in Paris, to test the structure that would hold her up and together.

During those years, Parisians affectionately referred to the sculpture as the ‘Lady of the Park’.

However even after these promotional tours, the construction of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal in America was being threatened by lack of funds as late as 1885.

Joseph Pulitzer, publisher of newspaper New York World, announced a drive to raise $100,000 – the equivalent of $2.3 million today and pledged to print the name of every contributor, no matter how small the amount given.

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The drive captured the imagination of New Yorkers and attracted more than 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar.

As the donations flooded in, work resumed on the pedestal and on 17th June 1885, a French steamer arrived in New York with the crates holding the dissembled Statue of Liberty.

200,000 people lined the docks to welcome the ship’s arrival and four months later, the complete Statue of Liberty was unveiled – going on to become an international icon of hope, freedom and the American dream. 

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty

The torch of the Statue of Liberty being worked on in the workshop in Paris, France from the New York Public Library

Left: Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the statue in his workshop. Right: The torch of the statue being constructed from the New York Public Library. Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and U.S. peoples

The pedestal for the statue being constructed by an army of workers in New York's Bedloe's Island in 1885 prior to the installation of the statue from the New York Public Library. Due to the width of the pedestal, it was not possible to erect scaffolding, and workers dangled from ropes while installing the skin sections. Nevertheless, no one died during the construction

The pedestal for the statue being constructed by an army of workers in New York’s Bedloe’s Island in 1885 prior to the installation of the statue from the New York Public Library. Due to the width of the pedestal, it was not possible to erect scaffolding, and workers dangled from ropes while installing the skin sections. Nevertheless, no one died during the construction

People viewing the head of the Statue of Liberty being displayed at the International Exposition in Paris upon its completion in 1878. The statue remained intact in Paris pending sufficient progress on the pedestal; by January 1885, this had occurred and the statue was disassembled and crated for its ocean voyage

People viewing the head of the Statue of Liberty being displayed at the International Exposition in Paris upon its completion in 1878. The statue remained intact in Paris pending sufficient progress on the pedestal; by January 1885, this had occurred and the statue was disassembled and crated for its ocean voyage