Yesterday was the 130th anniversary of the arrival of the Statute of Liberty to New York. Serendipitously, I was on a sailboat in the East River this past weekend and was able to take some close-up photos of the monument for the first time in many years. La Liberté éclairant le monde or Liberty Enlightening the World, its full name, was a gift of friendship from France to the United States. It arrived in 300 separate pieces, and when finally constructed on Liberty Island in 1886, it was the tallest iron structure in the world. The robed female figure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty. She bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law, and a broken chain lies at her feet. The tablet is inscribed with the date of independence, July 4, 1776.
Interestingly, as the U.S. Patent Office pointed out yesterday, La Liberté was patented by Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed the statue (note: it was actually built by Gustave Eiffel). As with all patent applications, there was a "specification" provided by Bartholdi, a careful written description of the machine or process and how it differs from previous patents and technologies. I enjoyed reading the lovely description, which you can find here and in part below:
Be it known that I, Auguste BARTHOLDI, of Paris, in the Republic of France, have originated and produced a Design of a Monumental Statue, representing Liberty enlightening the world, being intended as a commemorative monument of the independence of the United States. . . The statue is that of a female figure standing erect upon a pedestal or block, the body being thrown slightly over to the left, so as to gravitate upon the left leg, the whole figure being thus in equilibrium, and symmetrically arranged with respect to a perpendicular line or axis passing through the head and left foot. The right leg, with its lower limb thrown back, is bent, resting upon the bent toe, thus giving grace to the general attitude of the figure. The body is clothed in the classical drapery, being a stola, or mantle gathered in upon the left shoulder and thrown over the skirt or tunic or under-garment, which drops in voluminous folds upon the feet. . .