Statue of Liberty, Jean-Charles Bartholdi, sculptor, man, sculptor's brother
Statue of Liberty, Jean-Charles Bartholdi, sculptor, man, sculptor's brother

Is The Statue of Liberty Actually A Man?

The Discovery Channel — purveyor of fine, educational programs such as Fat And Furious, Naked and Afraid and Amish Mafia — stunned the few Americans watching TV last night with its revelation that the Statue of Liberty might actually be modeled after a dude and not the sculptor’s mother as originally thought. The theory came out during last night’s premiere of Secrets of America’s Favorite Places.

The Statue of Liberty and Jean-Charles Bartholdi, the sculptor's brother
Lady Liberty and the sculptor’s mother, Augusta Charlotte Bartholdi

French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi began constructing the 350-foot statue (whose name is actually Liberty Enlightening the World) in 1877. It took Bartholdi nearly a year to finish its face and head and at the time, everyone assumed that he had used his mother Augusta Charlotte as the model. But according to Elizabeth Mitchell, author of the 2014 book Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure To Build the Statue of Liberty, the model might have actually been the sculptor’s hot brother:

“The structure of the face isn’t really the same. [His mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … and was known for his accuracy. Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

To be honest, we can’t really tell whose face it is. We just like the idea of a dude in a dress being the symbol for American freedom.