U.S. statue of liberty ‘inspired by an Arab woman’

When the Egyptian government sought proposals to build a lighthouse for the Suez Canal, Bartholdi designed a statue of a robed woman holding a torch, which he then based the Statue of Liberty on. (File photo: AP)

The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of democracy and freedom in the United States, was inspired by a project representing an Arab woman guarding the Suez Canal, researchers have said.

The recent findings are especially startling for some in the United States amid a heated debate over the arrival of refugees from war-scarred Syria and other Muslim majority countries.

French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who traveled to Egypt in 1855-1856, developed there a “passion for large-scale public monuments and colossal sculptures,” said the U.S. National Park Service, which guards the Statue of Liberty in New York.

When the Egyptian government sought proposals in 1869 to build a lighthouse for the Suez Canal, Bartholdi designed a huge statue of a robed woman holding a torch, which he called “Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia.”

“Bartholdi produced a series of drawings in which the proposed statue began as a gigantic female fellah, or Arab peasant, and gradually evolved into a colossal goddess,” added Edward Berenson, who has also written about the subject.

In 1870, Bartholdi began designing the statue based on his previous design. It was inaugurated in 1886.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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