For all of the years that I have known of the existence of the 1/16 execution model of the Statue of Liberty that stands proudly in the former priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris (now the Musée des Arts et Métiers), the idea that it was made of plaster never entered my mind. I always thought that it was bronze.
The statue, in fact, is the “execution model” that its originator, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, and his workers used to create enlargements of the different elements of the statue that was assembled on Liberty Island and now stands in New York Harbor. That great statue is made out of molded sheets of copper affixed to a metal framework.
A few years ago the French art dealer, Guillaume Duhamel, approached the administrators of the museum with the idea of making cast-bronze statues from the plaster one. The administrators were initially reluctant to do so because of the fragility of the plaster statue. However the problem was eventually solved by using a process that scans the sculpture without touching it and creates a digital model. An identical reproduction was then made for casting, and the first bronze to be cast was installed in the courtyard of the entryway to the museum.
Last night a reception was held at the museum to honor the realization of this great project and to celebrate French-American friendship. Following a speech by Jean-Claude Ziv, professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, about the birth of the idea for the Statue of Liberty, American ambassador Charles H. Rivkin gave a speech evoking the symbolism associated with the statue and the singularity of the United States as a nation of immigrants.
Following Rivkin’s speech, attendees were invited to join guides for tours through the museum or to explore it on their own. The reception cocktail took place in the courtyard in front of the newly-installed bronze Statue of Liberty.
A good time was had by all!
For a virtual tour of the Saint-Martin-des-Champs church, click here.
We have written about the Statue of Liberty on two other occasions in our newsletter Paris Insights. Our first article, published in October 2000, was entitled “Is There a Black Statue of Liberty in Paris?” and addresses the rumor that circulated on the Internet at that time.
The other article was published in July 2006. Entitled “Three Ladies and a Flame,” it discusses the three Statues of Liberty that one could find in Paris at that time.
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