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Model of Liberty Enlightening the World

Object Name: Statuette/Figurine
Date: ca. 1879-1883
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Medium: Copper-plated zinc
Dimensions: Overall: 24 x 7 x 7 in. ( 61 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm )
Place made: France, Paris
Description: Statue of Liberty with 5 headdress rays (instead of 7). Dark brown patinated copper-plated zinc with wood base.
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. George A. Zabriskie
Object Number: 1942.346
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Marks: Bronze base inscribed: "Registered in Washington 31 August 1876 No9939 G"; "AVOIRON & Cie PARIS 4th July 1776"; cast on base, cast number: "C 22"

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One of the most widely recognized landmarks in the world, the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States commemorating human liberty and friendship between the two nations. Liberty Enlightening the World, as the monumental statue was titled, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, an ardent patriot with a fascination for the colossal. Liberty's face bears the recognizable features of Bartholdi's mother, while the arms and torso were modeled after the sculptor's wife, Jeanne-Emilie.

Liberty was intended for presentation to the United States on July 4, 1876 in honor of the nation's centennial, but sluggish fundraising slowed the statue's completion. The 30-foot raised arm and torch, constructed in time to be displayed at the International Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, generated great enthusiasm for the project. After the Centennial, the arm and torch were displayed in Madison Square for six years in order to raise money for the design and construction of the statue's massive concrete pedestal. In 1878, Bartholdi contracted with the Paris foundry Avoiron & Cie. to produce casts of Liberty in four sizes, including this two-foot reduction from Bartholdi's four-foot modèle d'étude.

The completed statue was finally unveiled in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886, a day of celebration for the more than 1 million people who lined New York's bunting-draped streets to watch a parade of more than 20,000 marchers. At the time of her dedication, the Statue of Liberty was the tallest structure in New York, reaching 305 feet, and today remains a potent symbol of both New York and the nation.


"The Changing Face of Liberty: Female Allegories of America," New-York Historical Society, May 16–September 3, 2000.

Robert Lehman Sculpture Gallery, New-York Historical Society, November 2000–2011.