Who Was The Statue of Liberty Modeled After: An Enigmatic Inspiration

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: May 28, 2023

The Statue of Liberty stands tall as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy in the United States. The monument's design is the work of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who drew inspiration from various sources to create this iconic figure. Let's delve into the story behind Bartholdi's muse and the journey that led to the creation of the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi's Initial Vision

In 1865, Bartholdi first envisioned a colossal statue that would be placed at the entrance of the Suez Canal in Egypt. His design concept featured a woman's body symbolizing progress and a man's face representing an "enlightened ruler" of the day. The figure would have two giant arms holding a torch, visible from both sides of the canal.

However, the Egyptian government rejected Bartholdi's proposal. Undeterred, he redirected his creative energies toward another monument that would eventually become the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi's Second Design

Bartholdi's revised design for the Statue of Liberty incorporated significant modifications that resulted in the iconic figure we know today. The most noticeable changes included replacing the spear with a torch-bearing arm and transforming the flame into a seven-pointed symbol based on a Roman Catholic design.

Additionally, Bartholdi reinforced the statue's base to support its massive weight and added a tablet to the figure's left hand with the inscription "July 4, 1776," signifying the date of the Declaration of Independence. This revised design received approval from both France and the United States.

The Elusive Muse: Who Was the Statue of Liberty Modeled After?

Isabelle Eugenie Boyer in Profile

When it came to choosing the model for the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi's initial design featured a woman dressed in classical robes, standing atop a pedestal with broken chains at her feet. This design aimed to symbolize the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom. However, the French government deemed this concept too political, prompting Bartholdi to seek alternative inspiration.

Eventually, Bartholdi came across Isabella Eugenie Boyer, the wife of a wealthy French banker. Captivated by her beauty and grace, Bartholdi asked Isabella if he could use her features as the basis for the statue's design. With her consent, Bartholdi modeled the statue's face and body after Isabella.

Although Isabella Eugenie Boyer was never officially credited as the model for the Statue of Liberty, it is widely believed that her likeness inspired Bartholdi's iconic creation. The final design, a fusion of Bartholdi's artistic vision and Isabella's enchanting features, has become a universally recognized symbol of freedom and democracy.