Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Statue of Liberty

I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 this morning about the history of the Statue of Liberty. The idea for it was conceived at a dinner in Paris is 1865 by the French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi who was inspired by the colossi at Thebes and whose plans to sculpt a colossus overlooking the Suez Canal had been scuppered. It took 10 years for his American idea to take off and another 10 years to build, by which time the enthusiasm for it had somewhat dampened. The French had agreed to fund the statue and the Americans were supposed to pay for its base but when the time came French-American relations were somewhat strained and nobody in America wanted to pay up for what was seen to be something for New York rather than for the whole country. Joseph Pulitzer, the newspaper magnate, came to the rescue. He organised fund-raising from the American people via his newspaper, saying that anybody who made a donation, even a schoolchild giving 50 cents, would have their name published in his paper (a cunning ploy to boost his sales). Bartholdi modelled the face of the statue on his mother and its body on his wife. There was some discussion on the radio about why Liberty, Britannia etc are always depicted as women rather than men. The answer, to my mind, is that the ideas of freedom and patriotism are dear to men's hearts and things which they are naturally inclined to look after, just like the fairer sex.

9 Comments:

Blogger kinglear said...

... and don't forget Marianne.I think Britannia was conceived as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth I - at least I know of no mention prior to her reign. Your knowledge may well be superior to mine in this respect. And I do hope you got a card this morning...

10:57 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi KL. I thought the Romans introduced the figure of Britannia. Just looked it up on Google which says that Hadrian built a shrine to the goddess Britannia in York. No card yet...

12:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kinglear - I'm with WW on this one - Britannia has been around for a couple of thousand years, which makes it all the more bizarre that Gordon Brown appears to want to get rid of her...

2:42 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Maybe she's too outdated for his 5 hours of culture

3:34 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Maybe it's also because women are more peace loving rather than warmongering, less hostile and more welcoming.

Is KL referring to a Valentine's card, I wonder?

9:58 pm  
Blogger marymaryquitecontrary said...

That ploy was for years used in our church. Every year a report was published of the finances which included the names and address of all members and the amount they had contributed, even if that was nil. I never agreed with it, and I am happy to say it no-longer happens. I must say that we do contribute to the churches funds.

2:19 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Marina - what a terrible system! I find it bad enough having to declare donations so that the church can recover the tax

3:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ellee - surely 'the female of the species is deadlier than the male' ?

What about Boudicca, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, and, er, Margaret Thatcher ?

10:31 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I always learn something from your blog, dear WW. Didn't know that about Pulitzer!

12:32 am  

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