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Famous Freemason - Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

"America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco."

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a French sculptor and painter. He is best known for designing Liberty Enlightening the World, commonly known as the Statue of Liberty.

Bartholdi attended the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris, and received a baccalauréat in 1852. He then went on to study architecture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts as well as painting under Ary Scheffer in his studio in the Rue Chaptal, now the Musée de la Vie Romantique. Later, Bartholdi turned his attention to sculpture, which afterward exclusively occupied him and his life.

In 1853, Bartholdi submitted a Good Samaritan-themed sculptural group to the Paris Salon of 1853. The statue was later recreated in bronze. Within two years of his Salon debut, Bartholdi was commissioned by his hometown of Colmar to sculpt a bronze memorial of Jean Rapp, a Napoleonic General. In 1855 and 1856 Bartholdi traveled in Yemen and Egypt with travel companions such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and other "orientalist" painters. The trip sparked Bartholdi's interest in colossal sculpture.

In 1869, Bartholdi returned to Egypt to propose a new lighthouse to be built at the entrance of the Suez Canal, which was newly completed. The lighthouse, which was to be called Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia and shaped as a massive draped figure holding a torch, was not commissioned. Both the khedive and Lesseps declined the proposed statue from Bartholdi, citing the high cost. The Port Said Lighthouse was built instead, by François Coignet in 1869.

The work for which Bartholdi is most famous is Liberty Enlightening the World, better known as the Statue of Liberty. Soon after the establishment of the French Third Republic, the project of building some suitable memorial to show the fraternal feeling existing between the republics of the United States and France was suggested, and in 1874 the Union Franco-Américaine (Franco-American Union) was established by Edouard de Laboulaye. Bartholdi's hometown in Alsace had just passed into German control in the Franco-Prussian War. These troubles in his ancestral home of Alsace are purported to have further influenced Bartholdi's own great interest in independence, liberty, and self-determination. Bartholdi subsequently joined the Union Franco-Américaine, among whose members were Laboulaye, Paul de Rémusat, William Waddington, Henri Martin, Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps, Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, Oscar Gilbert Lafayette, François Charles Lorraine, and Louis François Lorraine.

Bartholdi broached the idea of a massive statue and once its design was approved, the Union Franco-Américaine raised more than 1 million francs throughout France for its building. In 1879, Bartholdi was awarded design patent U.S. Patent D11,023 for the Statue of Liberty. On 4 July 1880, the statue was formally delivered to the American minister in Paris, the event being celebrated by a great banquet. In October 1886, the structure was officially presented as the joint gift of the French and American people, and installed on Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor . It was rumored in France that the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after Bartholdi's mother. The statue is 46m high (151 feet and 1 inch), and the top of the torch is at an elevation of 93m (305 feet 1 inch) from mean low-water mark. It was the largest work of its kind that had been completed up to that time.

Bro. Bartholdi was a member of Lodge Alsace-Lorrain in Paris France.

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