Creative Hero: Auguste Bartholdi
Although the creation of the Statue of Liberty was a group effort, the Creative Hero behind the massive project was Auguste Bartholdi.
Bartholdi was born in Colmar, France on August 2, 1834. Through his childhood and early adulthood, Bartholdi extensively studied art, sculpture, and architecture in Colmar and later Paris. Eventually, he landed on sculpture as his passion.
Some of Bartholdi’s early sculpture work is in Colmar and was cast in bronze. Like most creators, Auguste Bartholdi got his inspiration for the Statue of Liberty from his experiences on a trip to Yemen and Egypt with other artists. This trip sparked his interest in colossal sculpture after visiting the Pyramids and the Sphinx.
In 1871, he traveled to the United States and pitched an idea of a colossal statue to be a gift from the French to the Americans in honor of American Independence. The statue was commissioned and was originally named Liberty Enlightening the World and is based on the figure representing Libertas, a Roman Goddess of liberty. Because of New York’s history as an immigrant gateway, Bartholdi thought that his statue, later nicknamed Lady Liberty, would greet incoming visitors and immigrants alike. The statue was fully contracted in Paris and then assembled in New York. Bartholdi was also instrumental in raising the funds to create the Statue. The Statue was dedicated in 1886, 15 years after it’s conception.
After it was finished and renamed The Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi was commissioned to create a number of statues in the United States, including the Bartholdi Fountain in Washington, D.C. and the Lion of Belfort.
“It is a consolation to know that this statue will exist thousands of years from now, long after our names shall have been forgotten.” - Bartholdi on the day of the dedication of The Statue of Liberty.
What can we learn from Bartholdi?
- Bartholdi spent his life creating a sculpture to improve the world and to make a statement about the things that he valued.
- He drew his inspiration from classic design to make a landmark that inspires four million visitors each year.
- The enduring value and meaning of the Statue of liberty are just as relevant today as it was when it was created.
- His vision of a colossal statue embodies the idea of American freedom. His statue inspires more than just art, but rather American values of equality and liberty.
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