Liberty Enlightening the World



Background Notes

"Liberty Enlightening the World," the statue that is today more popularly known as the "Statue of Liberty," was a gift from the French to the people of the United States. The statue was to be given to the United States on the occasion of its centennial in 1876, and French sculptor Frédéric Bartholdi was commissioned to design the gift. Bartholdi originally planned for the sculpture to be completed and presented to the U.S. on July 4, 1876, in time for the centennial. However, construction was delayed and only one small part of the statue was ready for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia that year - the right arm and the torch. Attendees at the Exposition could visit the arm and torch, and they could pay to walk up and visit the torch's balcony.

This particular image shows the Statue of Liberty standing on its pedestal designed by Richard Morris Hunt, with many people walking along the base of the statue and around the pedestal.  Behind the statue, ships and sailboats are in the harbor, and a cityscape of New York City can be seen.

The printing of this lithograph was sponsored by the Travelers Insurance Agency, located in Hartford, Connecticut.  The bottom of the print connects the largess of the grand Statue with the wide reach of the insurance company: "The Travelers of Hartford is the only large accident company on this continent, and the largest in the world, and best of life companies."

The statue was made of bronze and was originally brown in color, before turning green from exposure to the elements. Construction of the statue and the pedestal was completed in 1886, ten years after it had been meant to be unveiled.  This lithograph includes facsimilies of signatures of the principle people involved with the conception and construction of the statue.

Transcription of Primary Source

Liberty enlightening the world.

Edition prepared expressly for and presented with the compliments of

the Travelers Insurance Co. Hartford, Conn.

This engraving represents the colossal statue by Bartholdi.

Presented by the French people to America

as it will appear on its pedestal

on Bedloes Island in New York Harbor.

Height of pedestal above high water 177 ft. 9 in. Height of statue 151 ft. 2 in. Total height from water 328 ft. 11in.

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
Liberty Enlightening the World
1 print : chromolithograph
Buek and Lindner
Root & Tinker
Place of Publication: 
New York
Image and text 82 x 57.5 cm., on sheet 90 x 64 cm.
American Antiquarian Society
Catalog Code: 
Lithfff BuekL RootT Libe