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France sends second Statue of Liberty to United States

Written by Xiaofei Xu, CNNLorraine Poupon, CNN

New Yorkers have a surprise gift to look forward to on Independence Day: a second Statue of Liberty sent by France. This new bronze statue, nicknamed the “Little Sister,” is one-sixteenth the size of the world-famous one that stands on Liberty Island. On Monday, during a special ceremony, the little brother was lifted and loaded into a special container at the National Museum of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) in central Paris, where it has been installed since 2011 in the museum garden. It will be erected on Ellis Island, directly opposite the original, July 1-5.

The statue, weighing over 450 kilograms (992 pounds) and measuring just under 10 feet tall, was first made in 2009. It is an exact replica of the original 1878 plaster model preserved by the CNAM.

“The statue symbolizes freedom and light throughout the world,” said Olivier Faron, general administrator of the CNAM. “We want to send a very simple message: our friendship with the United States is very important, especially at this time. We must maintain and defend our friendship.”

The 9-foot bronze statue will be on display at Ellis Island on Independence Day. Credit: CMA CGM Group

The replica wears the same neoclassical design as its ‘big sister’ in New York City, which depicts the Roman goddess Libertas and stands 151 feet tall atop the giant pedestal. It is imbued with symbolism: the crown with seven points, representing the rays of the sun extending over the world; a tablet bearing the date of America’s independence in Roman numerals; and broken chains and shackles on his left foot, signifying the abolition of slavery in the United States.

The date of the ceremony was also symbolic, held just after the 77th anniversary of D-Day during World War II, when American and Allied soldiers landed on French soil in 1944, marking the start of the liberation of Western Europe. of the Nazi occupation. .

The iconic Statue of Liberty that arrived in New York in 1886 was also intended to strengthen Franco-American friendship, at a time when Paris and Washington were slowly drifting apart, as French historian André Kaspi recalled in a speech delivered at the ceremony.

France sends second Statue of Liberty to United States

After Independence Day, it will be installed outside the residence of the French Ambassador in Washington, DC on Bastille Day – July 14. Credit: CMA CGM Group

The original Lady Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was first offered in 1865 by French historian Édouard de Laboulaye as a gift to the newly reunited United States after the Civil War. Laboulaye wanted to link the emancipation of slaves to the values ​​of the French Enlightenment. France was undergoing its own changes at the time, as the repressive Napoleon III ruled until 1870 and was then deposed during the Franco-Prussian War.

In 1871, under the new Third Republic, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the chosen sculptor, crossed the Atlantic to sell the project to the American government and search for potential locations. US President and former Union general Ulysses S. Grant initially greeted his proposal with indifference, according to Kaspi.

Although Bartholdi considered the former Island of Bedloe in New York Harbor as the ideal location for the future statue – all ships entering New York were passing through at the time – it was not until 1875 that Bartholdi has made an official request to Grant Him to use as an official site. To pay for the statue, the two countries made an agreement: the French funded the statue, while the Americans funded the pedestal.

France sends second Statue of Liberty to United States

The value of freedom is at the heart of the new statue of Lady Liberty. Credit: CMA CGM Group

Bartholdi’s carving of copper plates on an iron frame took almost a decade. The structure was conceptualized by engineer Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, but upon his death in 1879, just four years after its creation, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer best known for the construction of the Eiffel Tower, completed the task. The 225-ton statue left for New York in 1885, aboard a steamboat, and was unveiled in New York the following year by a new president, Grover Cleveland, who hailed Bartholdi as “the most great man of America today “.

More than a century later, Faron and the CNAM showcase the best of French craftsmanship through a local workshop to ensure that the modern replica retains this great heritage. A five-person team from the Susse Fondeur art foundry in Malakoff took four months to complete the statue. “It’s done with all the conditions to respect the original Bartholdi model,” said Faron.

The journey of the “little sister” has only just begun: in the footsteps of the original statue, she will embark on June 19 on a ship in the port city of Le Havre and will reach New York on July 1. Its final destination will be Washington, DC, where it will be on display for 10 years at the residence of the Ambassador of France.


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