The Statue of Liberty in New York City was a gift to America from the French to commemorate the centenary of the American Independence in 1776.
The Statue of Liberty was designed by the French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi when there was no liberty in France (Second Empire). With this statue, many liberals in France hoped to inspire the French people to call for their own democracy, freedom, and justice in the face of a repressive monarchy.
Since its official inauguration on October 28, 1886, hundreds of Statue of Liberty replicas (Liberty Enlightening the World) have been created worldwide. And Paris, the city where the Statue of Liberty was born, could not be an exception.
In this article, we tell you about all the Statues of Liberty in Paris, where they are, and the story behind them.
Musée des Arts et Métiers
The Musée des Arts et Métiers (60 Rue de Réaumur, Paris 3) hosts two Statues of Liberty, inside the museum and outside by the museum’s church.
The statue inside is the lesser-known Statue of Liberty in Paris because you can only see it if you visit the museum, which we recommend, by the way!
For the conception of the Statue of Liberty, Auguste Bartholdi delivered in 1870 a first draft of 28.6 meters in terracotta displayed today at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon. Then, he made a plaster model of 11.50 meters and 14 tons (1:25) completed in 1878 that he will use for the future Statue of Liberty in New York.
This original plaster was donated in 1907 to the Musée d’Arts et Metiers by Bartholdi’s widow, and it is displayed inside the museum. The museum also has different small models representing different stages of the Statue of Liberty’s construction.
On the forecourt of the museum, there’s is a bronze made from this plaster (same size), number 1 of an original print of 12, made by the museum and cast by Susse Fondeur Paris.
Île aux Cygnes
Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island on the Seine River in Paris 15, hosts the first Statue of Liberty in Paris. This quarter-size statue was given by the American community in Paris to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution.
This Statue of Liberty replica was originally intended to decorate Place des États Unis (Paris 16), where there’s another monument by Bartholdi representing the two heroes of the American Independence, Washington, and Lafayette. However, this square was too small for this colossal statue.
In the end, the Statue of Liberty was placed on Pont de Grenelle for the World Fair of 1889. The French President Carnot inaugurated the monument on July 4, 1889, in the presence of Auguste Bartholdi.
Bartholdi energetically demanded to orient this Statue of Liberty towards the west, facing distant America and New York. The statue, however, was oriented towards the east to avoid the president having to inaugurate it by boat and unveil a statue with its back to the Elysée Palace.
The Statue of Liberty was separated from the bridge – where it occupied the top of one of the piers – when the structure was rebuilt in the 1960s and then installed on an isolated plinth at the tip of Ile des Cygnes. This time, the city of Paris followed Bartholdi’s wishes, and the Statue of Liberty is oriented towards the west.
On the occasion of the World Fair of 1900, sculptor Auguste Bartholdi cast in bronze a model of the same size as the initial plaster, and he offered it to the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris 6.
In 1905, the statue was placed behind the Musée du Luxembourg, on the western edge of the Luxembourg Gardens, where it stood for over a century until 2012.
Today, visitors can see a replica of this Statue of Liberty. The original cast by Bartholdi stands in the entrance hall at the Musée d’Orsay.
The Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens appears on the inventory of the Musée d’Orsay since its creation in 1986. For many years, the Orsay’s curators tried to recover the Statue of Liberty from the Senate (in charge of the Luxembourg Gardens) without success.
Following the theft of the torch and the numerous damages to the Statue of Liberty in 2011, the Senate started to change its mind.
In July 2012, this Statue of Liberty was moved to the Orsay Museum for conservation reasons. The bronze has been restored, and the torch recast from an original plaster cast.
La Flamme de la Liberté
La Flamme de la Liberté (the Flame of Liberty), located at Pont de l’Alma in Paris 8, is a replica of the Statue of Liberty’s flame in New York. It was a gift to the French by the newspaper International Herald Tribune in 1987 to commemorate the American bicentenary.
The flame is close to the point where Princess Diana had a traffic accident that cost her life, and it has become a kind of unofficial memorial for the princess’ fans.
So there you have it, all the Statue of Liberty replicas in Paris. During your wanderings, you may find other Statues of Liberty in Paris, but they are not replicas from the original one.
If you decide to travel beyond Paris, you can find other Statue of Liberty replicas in Colmar, the one mentioned in Lyon, and one in Bordeaux, seized by the Nazis during World War Two but replaced years later.