10 Fun Facts about the Statue of Liberty: Bartholdi, Frederic (1834-1904)

1880 : Bartholdi’s The Lion of Belfort, in Belfort, France, a massive sculpture of a lion carved into the side of a mountain, depicting the huge struggle of the French to hold off the Prussian assault at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Bartholdi was an officer himself during this period, attached to Garibaldi. 
  1. The Statue of Liberty was actually named by its sculptor Frederic Bartholdi Liberty Enlightening the World (EB, “Statue of Liberty“).
  2. The Statue actually has a design patent: U.S. Patent D11,023 (WP, “Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi”).
  3. It was the largest work of its kind that had ever been completed up to that time, but was the tallest structure in New York City for only four years, until the New York World Building surpassed it at 349 feet in 1890 (WP).
  4. It was rumored in France that the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother (WP):


5. The statue, mounted on its pedestal, was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland on October 28, 1886 (EB).

6. Parts of the Statue have actually been redesigned.  Over the years the torch underwent several modifications, including its conversion to electric power in 1916 and its redesign (with repoussé copper sheathed in gold leaf) in the mid-1980s (EB). (“Repoussé” is “shaped or ornamented with patterns in relief made by hammering or pressing on the reverse side —used especially of metal,” according to Merriam Webster.)

7. The Statue was first administered as a lighthouse, then as part of an Army base.  It wasn’t until 1933 that it was administered by the National Park Service (EB).

8. From 1886 until 1916, you could use a service ladder inside the arm to go up to the torch (EB).

9. The Statue was an early example of crowd funding:  The design patent covered the sale of small copies of the statue. Proceeds from the sale of the statues helped raise modest but insufficient money to build the full statue (WP).

10. You can buy one of the models used to fund the Statue for $2750 on eBay. (It was only $5.00 originally.)(http://ebay.to/1WJPLyH)



Sources: WP = Wikipedia; EB = Encyclopedia Britannica

Photo sources: Wikimedia and eBay.







“Stanislas Kostka on His Deathbed” 1702-03 by Pierre Le Gros the Younger

Baroque is is an artistic style of the 17th and 18th centuries.

I don’t have anything interesting to say about such a broad artistic movement, but I am absolutely enthralled by this example of Baroque sculpture by Pierre Le Gros the Younger, which can be found in Sant’Andrea al Quirinale, Rome (http://bit.ly/2345JT7).

According to the Web Gallery of Art,

Here Le Gros’work looks back to the tradition of ecstatic or dying saints created by Bernini and Caffa, but instead of a white marble figure set off by coloured marbles, colour forms an integral part of Le Gros’ work: black touchstone for the Jesuit habit, Sicilian jasper and yellow marble for the bedding, and gilt bronze for the fringe. The saint’s hands, feet and head are carved from white Carrara marble, with the hair left rough and unpolished and the nails and eyes delicately incised (http://bit.ly/2345JT7).

I remember reading somewhere that ancient Greek sculptures were painted:



However, I am intrigued by the idea of a sculpture with colors that come from the materials themselves.

Here’s a closeup of this amazing work of art, where even the folds of his clothes are detailed and convincing:



There are stories of people entering this room being startled, thinking that this is a real person.  Such a sculpture takes the trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) movement in painting to another medium in a fascinating way.

Photo sources:

  1. http://bit.ly/1rxC8Gp
  2. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/true-colors-17888/?all
  3. http://bit.ly/1SNf9Tp

Barlach, Ernst (1870-1938)

Ernst Barlach_The Avenger_64
The Avenger by Ernst Barlach

Barlach was an expressionist sculptor, printmaker and writer.

Schwebender Engel (“Hovering Angel”) by Ernst Barlach

I’m not sure why, but these sculptures appeal to me.  EB describes his work as “modern Gothic,” and says that he features “heavy, massive figures in rigid drapery, animated by a single, forceful movement.”  He “emulated the blocky, rough-hewn quality of wood sculpture to achieve a more brutal effect.”

Since Barlach was an Expressionist, I wanted to know what that movement was. According to Wikipedia (“Expressionism”),  artists sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.  They  present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.  Here is a clear example of this:

The Scream by Edvard Munch (1893)

It is so rare to get a clear definition of an artistic movement–I usually get lost by a long series of abstractions–so thanks, Wikipedia!

Barlach’s Hovering Angel made me wonder how I’d sculpt an angel.  Should he be heavy, reflecting the power of God, or light and graceful?  Should he be frightening, since every Biblical character but Mary was frightened out of their wits by an angel’s appearance?  I would definitely dispense with the wings, not only because they are a cliche, but also because most moderns don’t realize that they were simply a medieval symbol for the speed of God’s messenger.

How would you sculpt an angel?

Photo credits:

  1. http://bit.ly/245nTGD
  2. http://bit.ly/1TlL3U1
  3. http://bit.ly/1TlL8al


Asahikawa, Japan


Britannica off-handedly mentions that Asahikawa has a winter festival, but once you see some pictures from this festival, you realize that such a brief mention doesn’t do this wonderful experience any justice.  The scale of the snow sculpture above is simply astonishing.

ice sculpturesmall snow sculptures


1)  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asahikawa_Winter_Festival_Snow_Statue_1.jpg

2)  www.japan-guide.com/e/e6894.html, which gives the details below:

The Asahikawa Winter Festival (旭川冬まつり, Asahikawa Fuyu Matsuri) is Hokkaido’s second largest winter festival after Sapporo’s Snow Festival. The festival takes place over a week in early February, about the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. Hence, it is possible for winter visitors to visit both festivals on the same trip as the two cities are only an 80 minute train ride apart from each other.

While Asahikawa may not be able to boast having Hokkaido’s biggest winter festival, it certainly has one of the biggest snow sculptures. Every year one massive sculpture is made as a stage for music and other performances. The giant sculpture of a Korean fortress in 1994 even made into the book of Guinness World Records as the largest snow construction built. The giant sculpture has a different theme each year, such as a snowman castle in 2010 or the Daisetsuzan Mountains in 2011.

The festival’s second site is the Heiwa Dori pedestrian street, which leads over roughly one kilometer from Asahikawa Station to the vicinity of the Asahibashi Site. About 50 ice sculptures are displayed there, to be judged in an ice sculpture competition. For the first few days of the festival the sculptors can be seen at work, after which the sculptures are left on display. The sculptures look particularly attractive during the evening when they are illuminated.

Archipenko, Alexander

One of the first artists to attempt Cubism in sculpture.

I don’t really understand Cubism, and I wish I did.  I do, however, think it would be a lot of fun as an intellectual exercise to try to represent an object in the most abstract yet still recognizable way, as he may have intended with Seated Woman (no date):
Seated Woman nd

I also think it is interesting to try different ways of conveying movement in sculpture.  As Wikipedia (“Cubist Sculpture”) says, “[d]epending on the movement around the sculpture and effects of lighting, concave and convex surfaces appear alternately to protrude or recede.”  Here is The Boxers (1914), which may do that:

The Boxers 1914

I also think combining collage and sculpture, as in his Médrano series of circus figures, is also an interesting concept.  I love artists who combine new materials or who combine old materials in new ways.