Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will the Real Statue of Liberty Please Stand Up

It wasn't until my youngest child was in high school that I saw NYC for the first time and the Statue of Liberty from a distance.  Somewhere along the line every American student learns about the magnificent lady that has welcomed millions of immigrants to their adopted homeland.

Fast forward several years when Cindy and I are looking out over the Seine from the second level of the Eiffel Tower and lo and behold (actually very low and behold) is another Statue of Liberty. There she is on the Ile des Cygnes just below the Pont de Grenelle. You've probably seen her, too, in the movie "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." What's going on here? What's with all of the Statues of Liberty? Oh, we've barely gotten started.
Before we make a trip to France we study like maniacs. Like it's a make or break final exam we're preparing for. Like we may never pass this way again so we'd better find out everything there is to know, where did this come from, who painted this, who lived in this house, why does this street bend so funny?

What's this rocky old wall?
Oh, nothing. It's just left over from 1209.

 Where's the Roman arena in Paris? Three blocks from our hotel? Really?!

Yes. Just a few blocks past ANOTHER Statue of Liberty.
Statue number three in Paris in the Luxembourg Gardens.

She's a bronze model used by Bartholdi the sculptor as part of his preparatory work for the real girl.
He offered it to the Luxembourg Garden Museum in 1900.
Oh, you'd like to see another model?
There just happens to be one more Statue of Liberty in Paris outside the Musee des Arts et Metiers which is their museum of arts and industry. She's the original plaster model.
As in plaster of Paris.
See? All this fits together.
Plaster of Paris is another post.
Bartholdi's widow donated this model in 1907.

Just when we thought we'd seen them all here she came again. This time in Florence, Italy at the Santa Croce church. Right there next to the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Dante (who actually is entombed elsewhere) is someone who looked mighty familiar.
Wait, doesn't she look like the Statue of Liberty?
 Sculpted by Pio Fedi and entitled Liberty of Poetry there is some discussion as to whether these are twins separated at birth or who took the idea from whom?

Wouldn't you have loved to look out your window one morning and see this girl greeting you and welcoming you to the dawn of another day?
 Bartholdi built Lady Liberty in the street next to his house in Paris.

A face only a mother could love.
He made model after model, each one larger and larger, using the simplest of line and form knowing that fussy details on a sculpture of such magnitude  would take away from the grandeur he desired.

And grandeur he got. Many times over.
In Birmingham, Alabama.

In Brazil

In Ukraine
There are well over 200 replicas of Liberty Enlightening the World from one corner of the globe to the other.
Austria, Germany, Kosovo, Norway, Spain, U.K., Ireland,
Mexico, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Australia.
But the best one of all?
The original American Girl.
P.S. And in case you're too young to remember this, the title question refers to the line from an old TV show called "To Tell the Truth." Three contestants were questioned by panelists about their unusual occupation, hobby, etc. Two were imposters and one was telling the truth. The celebrity panelists then had to guess who was telling the truth. The imposters earned money if either one of them was voted to be the truth teller. The last line was always, "Will the real ...............please stand up."


  1. great post, found it via little brown pen
    greetings from brussels

    1. Thank you, Anni. Now I'm looking at your blog. Belgium is on my wish list!