The Statue of Liberty was Modeled After Libertas (Goddess of Freedom)

Last updated: September 5, 2023

The Statue of Liberty was modeled after Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi designed the statue, officially named "Liberty Enlightening the World," with the goddess as his inspiration. The statue's design includes specific elements associated with Libertas, such as a raised torch and a tablet.

Bartholdi's Initial Vision

In 1865, Bartholdi first envisioned a colossal statue that would be placed at the entrance of the Suez Canal in Egypt. His design concept featured a woman's body symbolizing progress and a man's face representing an "enlightened ruler" of the day. The figure would have two giant arms holding a torch, visible from both sides of the canal.

However, the Egyptian government rejected Bartholdi's proposal. Undeterred, he redirected his creative energies toward another monument that would eventually become the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi's Second Design

Bartholdi's revised design for the Statue of Liberty incorporated significant modifications, resulting in "Liberty Enlightening the World," the iconic figure we know today. The most noticeable changes included replacing the spear with a torch-bearing arm and transforming the flame into a seven-pointed symbol based on a Roman Catholic design. 

Additionally, Bartholdi reinforced the statue's base to support its massive weight and added a tablet to the figure's left hand with the inscription "July 4, 1776," signifying the date of the Declaration of Independence. This revised design received approval from both France and the United States.

The Elusive Muse: Who Was the Statue of Liberty Modeled After?

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While it's a popular question, there is no definitive answer as to who the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after. Rumors and speculations abound. One theory suggests that the face of the statue was modeled after Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's mother, Charlotte Bartholdi. Another circulating rumor posits that the face was modeled after Eugénie-Emilie Boyer, the wife of a wealthy French banker.

Despite the enduring speculation, there's no definitive evidence to support the idea that the face of the statue is modeled after any specific person. Bartholdi himself never confirmed these rumors. Given the multiple steps involved in refining and finalizing the statue's features, from clay models to a life-sized plaster version, it's most likely that the face of the Statue of Liberty is a creation of Bartholdi's artistic imagination.

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