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Frederic Bartholdi

Autographed Letter

1249427-1

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Frederic Bartholdi (August 2, 1834 - October 4, 1904), French sculptor best known as the designer of the Statue of Liberty, authentic, autographed letter from 1882.

4 page ALS inscribed in French and signed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi as “Your very devoted, A. Bartholdi” on bottom right of third page. Cream unlined stationery paper with stylized red monogram at top left first page. In very good to near fine condition with expected paper folds and isolated light foxing to first page bottom. The pages measure 5.125" x 8.125".

On October 31, 1882 from Paris, Bartholdi wrote fellow Franco-American Union member Georges Glaenzer:

“Be good enough to tell Mr. Butler that today the Committee directed me to send Mr. Evarts an official letter to express my concerns. There was a big meeting and the slightly pointed newspaper articles that have begun to appear have upset all those gentlemen. The letter, addressed to the Honorable Members of the New York Committee, is supposed to be given to the press at a later date so as to release the responsibility of the Committee before public opinion; however, it won’t be revealed until next month in order to have it closely followed by the reply from the American Committee, and so that the newspapers won’t be able to overlook it.

In short, it is high time for the Americans to take action. The Committee wishes to take up questions of official transportation with our government and you realize that if there is the slightest doubt about the feelings or actions of the Americans the newspapers will hasten to cause us trouble.

The moment is very crucial, for we are going to be finished in the desired time. A lot of people are coming to see the work or they are talking about it, and this talk can only increase.

Be good enough to ask your dear father-in-law to underline the importance of this situation and to have us answered with a letter that we can give the newspapers …

P.S. Could the government be appealed to, if the subscriptions are insufficient?”

In 1882, Parisian metalworkers were painstakingly fabricating the modeled copper sheeting and iron infrastructure of the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi’s crews were on schedule, and French Franco-American Union Committee members were proactively planning for the eventual transportation of the completed sculpture to New York. In contrast, the Americans were inactive and seemingly apathetic. This apparent reluctance on the part of Americans was what “upset all those gentlemen”, as Bartholdi reported from Paris. Bartholdi wondered aloud if the U.S. government could fill the fundraising breach if the public’s lack of interest continued.

The Statue of Liberty itself was a gift from the French to the Americans. The French government would later pay for its transport to New York Harbor in 1885. All the Americans had to do was get ready to receive the Statue, which entailed retrofitting old fortifications into a pedestal on Bedloe’s Island. When the pedestal cornerstone was dedicated in August 1884, however, only about 50% of required funds were in the bank and the whole project was threatened. Thanks largely to newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer, who rallied the readership of his journal New York World, an additional $125,000 would soon be raised. The completed statue was inaugurated on October 28, 1886, only ten years later than forecasted!

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) studied painting, sculpture, and architecture under well-known instructors like Viollet-le-Duc in Paris. Following his service in the Franco-Prussian War, Bartholdi became increasingly interested in sculpting monumental works celebrating resistance against oppression, and Enlightenment ideals like Freedom. Bartholdi later conceived of the design of the “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World”. The fundraising phase of this process would take years, and indeed long surpass the actual 100th anniversary of the United States. Yet once it was installed in 1886, the massive 151-ft tall copper-clad sculpture of a standing woman would fundamentally change the cityscape.

Georges Auguste Glaenzer (1848-1915) was one of the people who made the project possible. In 1886, Glaenzer was a living in New York as a French expatriate. This Franco-Prussian War veteran transferred his interior decorating business to the United States in 1880, where he beautified the homes of affluent New Yorkers like the Vanderbilts. Glaenzer had numerous extra-professional interests including yachting and architecture. He was a member of the French Commission to the Centennial, and secretary of the French commission charged with fund-raising for the Statue of Liberty.

Richard Butler (1831-1902), also Glaenzer’s father-in-law, was a rubber manufacturing magnate with a deep interest in art. Butler served as an officer on the Franco-American Union Committee responsible for fundraising for the Statue of Liberty, and was a founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

William M. Evarts (1818-1901), a Harvard- and Yale-trained lawyer, former U.S. Attorney General, and Secretary of State in the Hayes administration also chaired a fundraising committee for the Statue of Liberty from 1877 to its unveiling in 1886.

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