The Statue of Liberty known to be a symbol of American freedom against monarchy and slavery was erected in the New York Harbor in 1886. The design concept 'Liberty Enlightening the World' for the statue was patented (US Patent # D11,023) by a French artist named Auguste Bartholdi.
Laboulaye (1811-1883), an ''Americanist'' like Alexis de Tocqueville, hired Bartholdi to sculpture the monument. Scholars say he approved Bartholdi's clay models, and gave him introductions to Americans ranging from President Ulysses S. Grant to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to win acceptance for the statue.
There is no documentation regarding the models Bartholdi used for the face and the body of the Statue of Liberty whether they were black, Muslim, Hindu or Roman.
Unsubstantiated sources cite different models such as Isabella Eugenie Boyer, Charlotte Bartholdi his mother and Jeanne-Emillie Baheux de Piyeux his mistress who were my emphasis : neither black nor Muslim. Also Regis Huber, the curator of the Bartholdi Museum is on record as saying that speculations or rumors have no basis.
In fact, Bartholdi was noted to be inspired by a representation of Liberty, derived from Libertas, the goddess of freedom widely worshipped in ancient Rome (my emphasis: Not Muslim) which was found in American coins of the same time.
In 1880, the American Catholic Quarterly printed a denunciation of the goddess and her torch, contending they received light ''not from Christ and Christianity, but from heathenism and her gods.''
This objection surfaced because ''ultimately the statue can be traced to Roman antiquity, there is no question about it,'' Dr. Boime said. Mr. Moreno's book presents evidence that an inspiration for the statue was the Roman goddess Libertas, the personification of liberty and personal freedom ordained by the Roman state.
- It is also reported that a Hindu philosopher Babu Mohini Chattergee declared that the Statue of Liberty reminded him of the Hindu idols of India soon after the Liberty statue's dedication in 1886.
Design inspirations for colossality of the Statue of Liberty:
Historians John Bodnar et.al. in 2005 mentions that Auguste Bartholdi in the 1860s had traveled to Egypt for gaining support for an idea of building a huge lighthouse at the entrance to the Suez Canal, a French enterprise supervised by Ferdinand de Lesseps.
But it was a trip to Egypt that shifted Bartholdi's artistic perspective from simply grand to colossal. The overwhelming size and mysterious majesty of the Pyramids and the Sphinx were awesome to the enthusiastic young Bartholdi. He wrote, "Their kindly and impassive glance seems to ignore the present and to be fixed upon an unlimited future."
The excerpt taken from the book 'The Statue of Liberty' by Marvin Trachtenberg, Viking Press, 1976 regarding the previous colossal design concept of Bartholdi to be built in Egypt states,
In form a colossal fallah (fallah, in Arabic, means farmer) many times life-size and holding aloft a torch, the theme being ‘Progress’ or ‘Egypt carrying the Light to Asia’, it was to be the embodiment of Ismail’s efforts at Europeanization and referred particularly to the great new canal itself. It was to serve as a lighthouse, thus recalling the Pharaohs of Alexandria.
The Suez colossal sculpture project was dropped since Khedewi Ismail Pasha, the then-viceroy of Egypt did not finance Bartholdi's project due to bankruptcy and Bartholdi traveled to America the next summer.
An inquiry report into the history and meaning of Bartholdi’s Liberté éclairant le Monde by Rebecca M. Joseph, Ph.D. in 2000 showed that the statue of Liberty's design evolved from an earlier concept Bartholdi proposed for a monument in Egypt, for which he used drawings of Egyptian women as models.
The temporal proximity and aesthetic overlap between Bartholdi’s Egyptian proposal and the Statue of Liberty project, and the preliminary nature of the statue's study models, makes it impossible to rule out an 1870-71 Liberty model that has design origins in Bartholdi’s drawings of black Egyptian women in 1856.
Historian Michael B. Oren, in his book “Power, Faith, and Fantasy,” states
Bartholdi would carve the likeness of an Egyptian peasant woman holding aloft a torch of freedom. The monument, twice as high as the Sphinx, would guard the waterway’s entrance and perhaps double as a lighthouse. Its name would be Egypt (or Progress) Bringing Light to Asia.