A research find from history can be striking in our current side of affairs, especially when misinformed politics tends to play the king. To that end, surrounding the debate concerning the Syrian refugee entry in America, researchers have surprisingly found that the Statue of Liberty might have very well been inspired by an Arab woman. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who designed Statue of Liberty (and also the Lion of Belfort), was known for his penchant for monumental works of art. And as such, he even made a trip to Egypt in 1856, impressed by the massive public works and gargantuan statues that dotted the country since ancient times – a journey that had been documented by the US National Park Service.
So after the Suez Canal was completed in 1869, Bartholdi was back in the Egyptian scheme of things after the country’s government invited proposals for a lighthouse that would accompany the serpentine water body. The Frenchman conceptualized his version of the lighthouse with a monumental statue of a robed woman holding a torch, and it was christened ‘Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia.’ As scholar Edward Berenson put forth his explanation that this initial concept pertained to a woman who represented a humongous version of the female fellah, or Arab peasant – but the idea was turned down.
However by 1870, Bartholdi got his second chance to design another massive statue – this time as a present to the United States, which was an incredible notion concocted by French historian Edouard de Laboulaye. So the sculptor may have made use of his earlier design concept, and morphed it into a colossal, neoclassical goddess that represented Libertas. Berenson made it clear –
There’s a relationship between the Egyptian statue that Bartholdi first conceived in the late 1860s. But that statue changed as it migrated to the United States. The original version of the statue made sense for Egyptian society. It wouldn’t have made sense for America.
Now with all said and done, it should be noted that the Arab woman was not the ONLY inspiration that might have played its crucial role in determining the design of the Statue of Liberty. According to some sources, Bartholdi was also influenced by the shapely visage of his mother Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi. Moreover, the only ‘sameness’ shared by the Arab woman concept and the Statue of Liberty is that they pertain to a female figure; but the figures in themselves are completely different from each other.