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The Statue of Liberty, constructing the light of democracy



(upbeat piano music) – [Steven] We're on Liberty
Island in the middle of New York Harbor standing at the feet of the Statue of Liberty. – [Elizabeth] Today,
people think of Manhattan's towering skyline but in
1886 when she made her first appearance here there was nothing as tall as Lady Liberty with her torch held high. – [Steven] The statue was a gift from the Republic of France
to the United States in honor of the friendship between the two countries but also in recognition of both countries'
commitment to democracy. The idea of this gift, of this massive sculpture, had originated with a
Frenchman who was a historian of American history and
he was a Republican, even at the end of the
reign of Napoleon III. – [Elizabeth] He was also
the president of the French Anti-Slavery League and so
a symbol that represented a nation that valued liberty and freedom and had ended slavery was
something that Laboulaye saw as a way forward for France. The United States was a model. This is the biggest statue
the United States has, this structure, which probably most people
would assume was financed by a state because it's so big, was not. The whole point was that this
was financed by the people of France and then by
the people of America and so the French set out
to raise 400,000 francs for the statue while the
United States citizens were meant to raise the money, about a quarter of a million dollars, to pay for the base. – [Steven] Much of the base
was supported by members of the Union League Club but they came up about $100,000 short. By this time the sculpture
had been completed and was laying in pieces in France waiting for the pedestal to be completed. At that point, Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of a newspaper called
The World reached out to his readership and
put forward this project as an expression not of New York's elites but of the common man. – [Elizabeth] Pulitzer
was the master of PR. He raised $100,000 in less than six months and most of those donations
were less than a dollar and that tells you a
lot about how Americans, many of whom would've been immigrants, felt about their ideals and ideologies. – [Steven] So how does
one take an abstract idea and represent it physically? Bartholdi was the sculptor
and is responsible for not only selecting the site but also for the overall artistic vision. Richard Morris Hunt was
hired to produce the pedestal and he draws on ancient
architectural vocabulary. – [Elizabeth] He references what was one of the most well-known
monuments from antiquity, the Pharos or Lighthouse
of Alexandria in Egypt which was this Greek city originally but incorporated many
aspects of both Greek and Egyptian architecture and we can really see
that in this building. – [Steven] The pedestal
was praised in its own day for having a strong
design in its own right but also not being so
grand as to overshadow the sculpture above it. – [Elizabeth] They really
work very well together. This is a local Connecticut granite, it's rusticated, there are galleries on each
side that have a colony that you can go inside
and have spectacular views of the harbor. – [Steven] I love the gently
domed rondels that surround the lower part of the pediment. There are 40 of them and that was one for each state back in 1886. – [Elizabeth] It's a reminder
of the 100 year anniversary of the United States so
it's a symbolic building in that way as well. – [Steven] And similarly
on the sculpture itself, the rays of the crown are seven, a reference to the seven seas
and the seven continents, and the idea of liberty
spreading across the world. – [Elizabeth] When this was dedicated, a million people reportedly
came out to see it. So what did that one million
people and the immigrants, when they sailed through the Narrows, what did they see? – [Steven] They saw a
personification of an idea. They saw a figure informed
by the great tradition of ancient Greece, the inventors of the ideals of democracy. The figure is heavily
draped so that her body is almost completely lost below it. We can see a finer
undergarment and then big, broad fields of copper cladding. – [Elizabeth] Our eyes
are drawn up to her face, to the torch. What is also remarkable is her tablet. It just says very simply, July 4th 1776 in Roman numerals. – [Steven] But those symbols, the symbol of the draped
woman holding a torch, this can be read in multiple ways and Bartholdi was at pains to express that this was not an incendiary torch but rather this was a
torch of enlightenment. And what a face. Her look is so determined, it's stoic, it is unwavering. – [Elizabeth] She looks
like she has accepted that this is her duty. She needs to show the
world what the ideals of liberty really mean. – [Steven] And she gently strides forward, matching the task at hand, as if she's going to bring liberty from the United States to
the rest of the world. And in fact this was produced
just as France was moving to the Third Republic. It's windy out here as we
stand at the foot of the statue and it's a reminder of
the engineering brilliance that went into the
design of this sculpture. This is made out of very
thin sheets of copper that have to withstand enormous
pressure from high winds, even hurricanes. – [Elizabeth] It is made of repousse work. – [Steven] That means that it
was hammered from the back, in this case in pieces
against wooden molds. – [Elizabeth] But then
you have another problem. If you've figured out how to build it, how does it stay up? – [Steven] And so the
credit here really has to go to Gustave Eiffel, the designer and owner of
the Eiffel Tower in Paris. – [Elizabeth] His other
masterpiece is right here in Manhattan's harbor. – [Steven] But it's hidden underneath Bartholdi's beautiful copper skin. Within is a brilliant
mechanism to hold every single sheet of copper independently. – [Elizabeth] There are
four big, thick steel pylons and coming off of there is
this spiderweb of steel, connecting to every single piece, this intricate design
that is incredibly light. – [Steven] And none of
those steel posts can touch the copper because if
they did it would set up a kind of galvanic electric current that would corrode the sculpture. So each post has to be insulated
from the copper itself. So the Statue of Liberty
which we credit to Bartholdi is actually very much a communal work. It's a work of two nations
but it's also the work of the brilliant architect of the pedestal and an equally brilliant engineer. – [Elizabeth] Many different
people working together to achieve a remarkable result. (upbeat piano music)

12 Comments

  1. Elena Viloria
    Elena Viloria July 23, 2019

    I could literally listen to you guys all day! What a fantastic channel. It's brought back my interest and love for art. Thank you professors Elizabeth and Steven!

  2. SoCalFreelance
    SoCalFreelance July 23, 2019

    I now feel sorry for anyone that travels with me to the Statue of Liberty, so much knowledge to unveil.

  3. romanes
    romanes July 23, 2019

    Perhaps the best broadcasting network on the internet on art and civilisations, a guarantee of a better understanding, respect between human beings with the discovery others great cultures, describing and admiring works of art, to see what mankind can do at its bets, a need in this troubled time.
    A little wish, put please if it's possible, some appropriate music (the supreme art) with the comments (or with only the pictures) without disturbing the intelligibility of the comments, always relevant. Greetings from France.

  4. Tate Miller
    Tate Miller July 23, 2019

    Long live the French !! Fascinating the cooperation between two nations without the aid of Internet. Takes me to a different time..

  5. Picasso's Pajamas
    Picasso's Pajamas July 23, 2019

    Do either Dr. Macaulay-Lewis or Dr. Zucker have an published works? I really admire their commentary and would love to read them.

  6. Brian Faure
    Brian Faure July 23, 2019

    Nice!

  7. cloudtoground
    cloudtoground July 23, 2019

    Thank you France!

  8. Andrew M
    Andrew M July 23, 2019

    Mother of Exiles. May she long be.

  9. emir ali demirel
    emir ali demirel July 23, 2019

    So much thanks for great videos

  10. alertonoff 4
    alertonoff 4 July 23, 2019

    just like burne jones .. all of his figures, male and female represent some unconscious Phantasmic neo neo-classical .. ideal.

  11. 빅빅퀘스천
    빅빅퀘스천 July 23, 2019

    자유의 여신상의 원래 모델이 뭐였죠??

  12. Christian Keogh
    Christian Keogh July 23, 2019

    Great video I have to say

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