Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a sculptor in France, known internationally for his model of Freedom which illuminated the globe, also referred to as the Statue of Liberty.
Bartholdi was born in Colmar, France, on 2 August 1834. He was born to a family of German Protestant heritage, with his family name romanticized by Barthold. His parents were Jean Charles Bartholdi (1791–1836) and Auguste Charlotte Bartholdi (1801–1891). Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was the youngest of their four children, and one of the only two to survive childhood, along with the oldest brother, Jean-Charles, who became a lawyer and editor.
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi EducationBartholdi's uncle, owner of the property and advisor to the prefecture, died when Bartholdi was two years old. Afterwards, Bartholdi moved to Paris with his mother and his older brother, Jean-Charles, where another branch of their family lived. With the family often returning to spend a long time in Colmar, the family maintained ownership and visited their house in Alsace, which later became the Bartholdi Museum. Bartholdi took lessons from Martin Rossbach while in Colmar. He studied sculpture with Antoine Étex in Paris. He also studied architecture under the supervision of Henri Labrouste and Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.
Bartholdi attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris and obtained a baccalaureate in 1852. He then studied architecture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts as well as painting under Ary Scheffer in his studio at Rue Chaptal, now the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Later, Bartholdi turned his attention to sculpture, which subsequently occupied him and his life exclusively.
Frédéric's Good Samaritan Themed SculptureIn 1853, Bartholdi unveiled the Good Samaritan-themed sculptural band to the Paris Salon of 1853. The statue was later cast in bronze. Bartholdi was commissioned by his hometown of Colmar to sculpt a bronze memorial to Jean Rapp, the Napoleonic General, within two years of his debut in the Salon. In 1855 and 1856 Bartholdi traveled to Yemen and Egypt with travel companions such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and other "oriental" painters. The trip ignited Bartholdi's interest in gigantic sculpture.
In 1869, Bartholdi returned to Egypt to suggest the construction of a new lighthouse at the mouth of the Suez Canal, which had just been completed. The lighthouse, which was to be called Egypt Carrying Light to Asia and was shaped as a huge draped figure holding a torch, was not commissioned. Both the khedive and Lessups rejected Bartholdi's proposed statue, citing the expensive cost. The Port Said Lighthouse was designed by François Coignet in 1869.
Frédéric and the WarIn the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Bartholdi served as a squadron leader of the National Guard and as liaison officer to Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi, representing the French Government and the Army of the Vosges. As a soldier, he had taken part in the defending of Colmar from Germany. Disturbed by the loss of his country, in the years that followed, he built a number of monuments honoring French bravery in defense against Germany. Among these works was the Belfort Lion, which he began working on in 1871, not completing the huge sandstone sculpture until 1880.
Frédéric visits the United StatesIn 1871, he made his first visit to the United States, where he came up with the idea of a huge monument placed on the Americans by the French in celebration of the centennial of American independence. The design, first introduced to him in 1865 by his friend Édouard René de Laboulaye, contributed to the Statue of Liberty in the port of New York.
After years of work and fund-raising, the statue was inaugurated in 1886. During this period, Bartholdi also sculpted a number of monuments to American cities, such as a cast iron fountain in Washington, DC, completed in 1878. He entered the Freemasons Lodge Alsace-Lorraine in Paris in 1875. In 1876 Bartholdi was one of the French commissioners of the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. He exhibited bronze statues of The Young Vine-Grower, Génie Funèbre, Peace and Genius in the Grasp of Misery, receiving a bronze medal for the latter. His 1878 Gribeauval statue became the property of the French state.
A prolific maker of statues, sculptures and portraits, Bartholdi exhibited in the Paris Salons until the year of his death in 1904. He also remained active in a number of mediums, including oil painting, aquarelle, photography and drawing, and was elected Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1886. Bartholdi died of tuberculosis at 70 years of age in Paris on 4 October 1904.
The Statue of Liberty
The work that Bartholdi is best known for is Liberty Enlightening the Earth, better known as the Statue of Liberty. Shortly after the creation of the French Third Republic, a proposal was initiated to create a suitable monument to display the fraternal feeling that exists between the republics of the United States and France and, in 1874, Edouard de Laboulaye founded the Union of the Franco-Americans.
Bartholdi's birthplace in Alsace had just fallen under German occupation in the Franco-Prussian war. Such issues in his ancestral home in Alsace are thought to have further inspired Bartholdi's own great interest in democracy, equality and self-determination. Bartholdi subsequently joined the Union Franco-American, including Laboulaye, Paul de Rémusat, William Waddington, Henri Martin, Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Count de Rochambeau, Oscar Gilbert Lafayette, François Charles Lorraine and Louis François Lorraine.
Bartholdi broached the concept of a large statue and, once its model had been accepted, the Franco-American Union collected more than 1 million francs for its construction in France. In 1879 Bartholdi was awarded a U.S. design patent. Patent D11,023 relating to the Statue of Liberty.
The statue was officially turned over to the American minister in Paris on 4 July 1880, the occasion being celebrated by a great banquet. The design was formally presented as a joint gift of the French and American people in October 1886 and was built on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor. It was rumored in France that the head of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after the mother of Bartholdi.
The statue is 151 meters and 1 inch tall, and the top of the torch is at an elevation of 305 feet 1 inch from the mean low-water mark. It was the greatest work of its kind that had been done up to that time.
Bartholdi". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
Bartholdi, Auguste. Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Statue of Liberty" on the United States National Park Service's Statue of Liberty website
Statue of Liberty: Frequently Asked Questions", National Park Service website