Paris: Embracing Lady Liberty

Bartholdi's "Big Daughter" (a.k.a., Statue of Liberty), New York, New York Image: T. Brack's archives

Bartholdi’s “Big Daughter” (a.k.a., Statue of Liberty), New York, New York Image: T. Brack’s archives

DIOR’S “NEW LOOK” AND LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Île des Cygnes, BY COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT CAPA, PARIS, 1948

DIOR’S “NEW LOOK” AND LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Île des Cygnes, BY COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER ROBERT CAPA, PARIS, 1948

By Theadora Brack

Start spreading the news because we’re leaving today! In celebration of the recent July 14th Bastille Day in France, let’s pay homage to my favorite Franco-American collaboration, the gigantesque statue of Lady Liberty on Bedloe’s Island in the New York Harbor.

Up my sleeve, I’ve got a few new tidbits and photographs, along with one taken by our own special photographer friend, Maurice Sapiro. While playing the trumpet with the 279th Army Band in Europe in 1956, Maurice documented the streets of France. Inspired by the Lumière Autochrome color film process, his shots snap, crackle and pop!

After all these years

Our 151-foot tall iconic darling is still looking fierce in her spiky nimbus (that’s right, mythically speaking it’s not a crown!) and matching, floor length chiton in all its copper green tonalities. An exquisite nod to the style of classical Greece, I must say.

Pinching from the late, great designer, Christian Dior, “Darling, your toile with the cinched waist is perfect!”

Dream Team

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was the artist, while Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel were the structural engineers of the Union Franco-Americaine Statue of Liberty project. (Viollet-le-Duc also helped restore Notre Dame. Contributing his own interpretive gothic revival twist, he upgraded it with a fantastical spire and a bevy of new gargoyles to keep the evil spirits at bay, and then gave it a good cleaning.) Yes, it is a small world.

LADY, I CAN SEE YOUR HALO AT THE MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS, Paris

LADY, I CAN SEE YOUR HALO AT THE MUSÉE DES ARTS ET MÉTIERS, Paris

Step right up!

Monumental statuary has long been financed by public subscriptions (much like today’s Kickstarter funding schemes). The Statue of Liberty was no exception. Fully embracing crowdsourcing, Bartholdi pumped up the publicity volume with some P.T. Barnum-worthy teasers: In 1876 Lady Liberty’s arm and torch shined at the Centennial in Philadelphia, while her head and halo made a photogenic cameo at Paris’s Exposition Universelle of 1878.

With the help of the Paris opera’s theatrical director, Jean-Baptiste Lavastre, Bartholdi also fashioned a portable canvas banner and cranked out miniature replica souvenirs—all boasting Lady Liberty’s image, well before the statue was built. You can never go wrong with swag, I’ve always said. Apparently Bartholdi felt the same way, because in 1876 he applied for and won a design patent for the Statue of Liberty, which further helped him promote, fund, and move the project forward.

A star is born

From the get-go, Bartholdi was involved in every aspect and phase of the project. Cutting a dashing figure with his short beard and pencil-thin mustache, Bartholdi not only ignited but also maintained a global buzz. And how! There was even a “Bartholdi Fan Club.” But he also had timing on his side. During 1800s, colossal monuments were in vogue as a popular way of sharing collective ideas and values (similar to social media walls).

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, ÎLE DES CYGNES, PARIS, 1940

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Île des Cygnes, PARIS, 1940

Fast forward: The French paid for the construction of the statue, while the U.S. footed the bill for her pedestal (with a big push from Joseph Pulitzer—all donors got their name listed in his World newspaper, no matter how small their gifts).

Pulitzer also pumped up the volume when he wrote: “We must raise the money! The World is the people’s paper, and now it appeals to the people to come forward and raise the money. Let us not wait for the millionaires to give us this money. It is not a gift from the millionaires of France to the millionaires of America, but a gift of the whole people of France to the whole people of America!”

Keeping it simple

Here’s how Bartholdi described his vision: “I have a horror of all frippery in detail in sculpture. The forms and effects of that art should be broad, massive and simple!”

I think Christian Dior would have added his stamp of approval to the Statue of Liberty’s classical attire. After all, he once said, “Elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity.”

Imagine if Dior had designed a stunning little “New Look” number for our Top Model Liberty friend. Perhaps a dress with a plastron curving down below the waist, side drapery, and a faux waterproof stole? The mind squeals!

Weighing in at an impressive 450,000 pounds, her height (from heel to head) is 111 feet, one inch, her waist is 35 feet, the length of her right arm is 42 feet, the length of her hand is 16 and a half feet, her fingernails are 13 inches (no nail biter here!), her head from chin to cranium is just over 17 feet, while her nose is more than four feet long and her mouth is three feet wide. It’s a good thing big girls don’t cry.

Statue of Liberty, New York, Life Magazine, 1940 (T. Brack's archives)

Statue of Liberty, New York, Life Magazine, 1940 (T. Brack’s archives)


Exciting and New

Indeed, Lady Liberty is no lightweight. During the summer of 1885, after taking a special 70-car train from Paris to Rouen, the 300 copper pieces that form her surface were packed in 214 wooden crates. It then took more than a month aboard the French frigate Isère to carry her from France to the New York Harbor.

“You look marvelous,” Mayor William Russell Grace shouted, live from New York! During her 1886 inaugural parade along Broadway from the Battery to City Hall, the financiers in Wall Street were so moved that they started throwing tape out the window, igniting the Big Apple’s eternal love affair with tickertape parades. There wasn’t a dry eye along the “Canyon of Heroes.” I’m sure of it.

Trekking to Paris?

Don’t leave Paris without checking out the prototypes of Bartholdi’s La Statue de la Liberté scattered around the city. Grab a pencil! You can find them in a range of sizes near the Pont de Grenelle on the Île des Cygnes (Métro: Bir-Hakeim), in the Jardin du Luxembourg (Métro: Odéon), and at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Métro: Arts et Métiers).

Tip: You can also find a full-size version of her famous torch at the entrance to the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. Nowadays, the “Flamme de la Liberté” memorial serves double duty as the unofficial Princess Di shrine, since she was killed in the traffic tunnel just below. Pilgrims still leave poems, flowers, and love letters there. And if you’re still hungry for more Libertiana after all this, Bartholdi’s former studio is located at rue de Chazelles in the 17th arrondissement (Métro: Courcelles). Parc Monceau is just around the corner. Look for the plaque!

To love is to act

Prior to the Statue of Liberty’s voyage in 1885, Victor Hugo paid a visit to Bartholdi’s Gaget, Gauthier and Co. workshop. He was moved to remark, “C’est Superbe! Yes, this beautiful work tends to what I have always loved, called: peace. Between America and France—France, which is Europe—this guarantee of peace will remain permanent. It was good that it was done!”

Or in the words of Dior: “A country, a style or an epoch are interesting only for the idea behind them!”

(And thank you, Monsieur Sapiro, for sharing your beautiful photograph!)

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ by Maurice Sapiro, Place de la Liberté, POITIERS, FRANCE, 1956

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Gaget and Gauthier Co., Paris, 1882 (Bartholdi is on the right without hat)

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Pont de Grenelle, Île des Cygnes, Paris September 1, 1944 (T. Brack’s archives)

LA STATUE DE LA LIBERTÉ, Pont de Grenelle, Île des Cygnes, Paris (New Bridge but Lady Liberty is still holding her own!)

“FLAMME DE LA LIBERTÉ” MEMORIAL THE UNOFFICIAL PRINCESS DI SHRINE, PARIS

“SOUVENIR DE PARIS” COMPACT MIRROR, 1940S

STATUE OF LIBERTY, NEW YORK CITY, HEART-SHAPED COMPACT MIRROR, 1950S

BRACK Lady Liberty 15

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77 thoughts on “Paris: Embracing Lady Liberty

  1. Always love your eclectic eccentricities…. New York itself…..highly overrated imho…..claustrophobic, hyper expensive for little value. The value’s and creative characters that made NYC famous are long gone. Like living in a crowded strip mall. If you want fantastic shopping at half the cost with more accessible all imaginable designer fashions…go to Dallas…..hotels etc at a third the price. FYI.

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    • Lady Liberty and I go way back.

      During my New York years, I lived on Staten Island and worked in Manhattan. Ah, how I miss my ferry commute. What a complete joy it was to see spot her. Especially at sunset! I never missed a chance. Each and every ride, I gave her a wink.

      T.

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  2. Love seeing a post from you in my inbox, T. Funny that while we were in France, you were focusing on the US-France relationship. 🙂 Attractive and enchanting post as always.

    janet

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    • Bonjour, Janet! How was your trip to France? I’ve been enjoying reading your field reports. As always, your photographs are beauties.

      Say, did you make it to the mustard factory?!

      T.

      (Enjoy the weekend!)

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      • The trip was excellent. We saw Stage 10 of le Tour, a high point, went on a barge with friends, saw all sorts of small, out-of-the way spots, spent a day in Beaune…but didn’t make it to Dijon. We’ll save that for another time. I’m happy you enjoyed the trip with me. 🙂 The barge post will be up either Saturday or next week and soon you’ll be seeing Wyoming photos!

        Have a great weekend as well.

        janet

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  3. This was a really neat read. Thank you for taking the time to put all this together, they are so much fun to read. (How long does it typically take you to do the research for a post like this?)

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    • Thanks, Bradley!

      Well, my plan is usually to stick to an easy, breezy 500 words. BUT then I get obsessed with the subject. I get hooked. Obsessed! I thoroughly enjoy the research phase, always. It’s difficult to STOP and hit the “publish” button. Sigh. It’s all about the process, eh?

      Hey, didn’t I spot some of your recent illustrations? That’s very cool! Does the new project have a name or theme?

      Have a creative weekend!
      T.

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      • Yes, it has! Well sort of- I have been participating in this Cartoon Craziness Challenge and the theme for this week was Superhero (Read it here: http://theindecisiveeejit.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/cartoon-craziness-challenge-week-3/).

        So I created a superhero called Ms. Cookie Crisp based on some old comics of mine. After I created her, I loved the concept so much I began doodling up more for her, until finally I made a full comic. Now she will be fighting bad guys and my Comic Counterpart will be her sidekick. It’s all really silly and everything but it is getting me to draw again.

        I should start including a cat in it, in honor of you. 😀

        Thanks for asking, I’m actually kind of excited about it. It’s fun to be doodling again. 😀

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      • This is fabulous news, Bradley! Ms. Cookie Crisp. I love the concept. And perhaps a cat?! Bravo!! You made my week. Keep drawing. Don’t stop.
        Your fan,
        T.
        (Does the sidekick have a name?!)

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  4. Oh, one of my favorite gifts to the United States! Our lovely French brothers and sisters gave us the very image of our freedom (and helped us secure that very freedom). Since Tin Man celebrates his birthday on that beautiful Bastille Day, upon our mantel along side the beautiful porcelain statue of Napoleon and the scrimshaw etching of Marie, stands a miniature of Lady Liberty. Oh, thank you for telling her story! So many pathetic citizens of the U.S.A. do not even know of her history……..sad…thank you for giving her the nod.

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    • Merci, Monsieur Tin Man! YES. You celebrate your birthday on Bastille Day. Goodness. Gracious. What fun. Happy Belated Birthday! I loved your description of your mantel. A fabulous entourage, I’d say. I’m also a fan of the Statue of Liberty. I thoroughly enjoyed creating the nod!

      Confession: A few years ago, I competed in the La Rochelle (France) marathon, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. It was much fun with an easy, breezy outfit, to boot. You would have approved! I wore lightweight chiton over shorts, along with a handmade spiky nimbus and torch in foam, of course.

 All along the race route, crowds yelled, “Bravo, Lady Liberty!” It was funny, motivating, and moving. YES. I cried a few times. I still have both the crown and torch!

      Big Hugs (et Bon Anniversaire!!)
      T.

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  5. A wonderfully evocative read! I saw Lady Liberty for the first time last year during a glorious sunset cruise and expected to be underwhelmed but I was smitten!

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    • Merci! Lady Liberty at sunset? She looks fabulous at this time of the day, doesn’t she? YES. I sorely miss my New York commute. Years ago, I lived on Staten Island and worked in Manhattan, so we spent beaucoup time together. “Remember this moment,” I’d say to myself each time the ferry passed her.

      Did you take any photographs during the cruise?!

      Enjoy the weekend!
      T.

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    • Thank you, Julia! Have you written about Lady Liberty? 
Did New York recently move the Liberty Warehouse Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Museum? I think so but I’ll double-check. And I guess El Teddy’s is closed. Blah! I wonder if they saved the crown? T.

      (A tidbit you’ll appreciate it: Lady Liberty wears a size 879 shoe! :))

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  6. I haven’t gotten real close to her. I need to go back to NY soon and see her up close. Thanks for the history lesson.

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    • YES. Make a plan!

      Here’s a historical tidbit for the road: Back in the day, Bartholdi also wanted New York City to add a restaurant, a casino, and non-stop band music. He also wanted to gild the statue. Sigh. Imagine. The mind squeals again!

      Have a great weekend!
      T.

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  7. A beautiful evocation… There is also a smaller version below one of the Seine bridges, I think in Genevilliers… 🙂

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  8. I have never seen Lady Liberty in New York, but have frequently sailed by the little Lady on the Seine. Great history and such good photos. Capa photographs Dior! And another cracker from Monsieur Sapiro!

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    • Merci, Mary! I agree. Monsieur Sapiro’s shot of Lady Liberty crackles! He’ll appreciate your words. I will let him know. And YES. I also dig the Robert Capa photograph. He’s always been one of my favorite photographers. I had no idea he photographed fashion shoots. (I also dig Man Ray’s fashion plates. Very surreal.)

      Enjoy the weekend!
      T.

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  9. “No I don’t think it’s over the top to rent a yacht to float around the Statue of Liberty, Mr. Tin!” she said. “The balloon ride over Fontainebleau on your birthday was enchanting but this is pure brilliance.” She unpacked the wicker picnic basket; bottles of icy sparkling wine, cheeses and breads from Dean and Deluca and dozens of tiny flags to decorate the deck. Augustine put a scratchy 78 record on the Victrola. Edith Piaf serenaded The Great Lady. Lar shook out the picnic tablecloth and lavished it with food. She took her Malta hankie and wiped the ocean spray off the Tin Man’s shoulders. Tin Man raised his glass, “to Theadora and the country where this all began”.

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    • How did I miss this wonderful birthday celebration? And there was a balloon ride? I am out of the loop. Oh, SIGH. I’m also a big time fan of Dean & Deluca. The cheese experts are always so nice and helpful. Handsome, too!

      I’ve been thinking of your paint project, Virginia. I did some research: Benjamin Moore makes a spiffy “Lady Liberty 585” color. Oh, dear. What would your door say?

      Now, 60 tons of paint is needed for the Eiffel Tower!

      Through the years the colors have varied from dark red to a bright yellow, and from dark chocolate to her current “Brun Tour Eiffel”—a special grayish-brown hue. To emphasize her fabulous silhouette as seen from the ground, there are actually three different shades of the hue that change from dark to light, the higher up you go.

      Also, there are rules!

      Painters must follow traditional methods, which haven’t changed since her débutante days. Paint must be applied manually, with brushes and rollers. Leave the paint guns at home. Lastly, work may not start until each morning’s dew has evaporated.

      Enjoy the weekend and painting, Virginia!!
      T.

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      • Theadora – you would NEVER be out of the loop. I wasn’t supposed to know but Tinny spilled the beans about you being away on a secret assignment and that we would just have to wait to read about it.

        The painter of House will follow traditional methods. Painter Lar will paint with rollers and brushes and ONLY after the heavy dew has become a damp memory.
        Door says it thinks Lady Liberty is a glorious colour. The colour of the edge of the horizon at sunset. The shade of the turquoise in my silver necklace.
        I suggested to Door that it might consider “the little black Chanel dress” look. With white camellias each side the entry way.
        No comment from door. Hmmm.

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      • Thanks for the giggle, Virginia! Poor Painter Larry! I am digging “the little black Chanel dress” look. Very au courant with pearl-like white camellias, to boot. Coco’s favorite flower! PERFECTION.

        Any word from the door?
        T.

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    • Oh for the delights, Virginia…….what a lovely time! I have run and put on my Dean and Deluca tee shirt to wear the rest of the day in remembrance of this delight! Augustine giggled as he left the room to put on Ms. Piaf, who is now filling our home with her enchanting voice. I so love that you remembered to bring your Malta hankie….you are so lovely!

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      • A lady always carries a hankie, and my Malta hankie is tucked safely into my purse. You did look fab in your D & D Tee shirt. Theadora would have called it “appropriate styling”.

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      • One day Theadora – one day – we must compare hankies. I collect lavishly laced vintage hankies; scouring thrift shops for these treasures. I don’t have the pleasure of my grandmother’s hankies but my Malta hankie was a gift from Monsieur Tin Man and I am never with out it.

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    • Dear Maurice! Apologies for my delayed response! Thank you for sharing your work again with us. I love your photograph of Lady Liberty. It’s a beauty. What time of day did you shoot it? Do you remember? The lighting is so lovely.

      Big Hugs, T.

      (And do keep us posted on your exciting gallery news!)

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  10. Thank you for reminding us of the history of this special gift from the French! An excellent post with a touch of fashion thrown in as usual. I saw your reply to the Tin Man confessing your fashion choice for a marathon. I am impressed with your stamina and choice. I know you were a classy runner! Bravo!

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    • Merci! Running in France is always great fun! The (affordable!) competitions typically boast live music, spectators, and all the essentials like water, fruit, and nuts, along with sugar cubes and dark chocolate, my favorites. YES. Dark chocolate! Upon crossing the finish line, medals and prizes are presented to all who finish. In addition to the standard T-shirt, depending on the race, I’ve been given wine, cheese, oysters, long-stemmed roses, AND compact mirrors! It’s a win-grin!
      T.

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    • You made me smile! I thoroughly enjoying digging up the proper fashion scoop on Lady Liberty. I’m hooked. In fact, it’s been difficult to stop the research phase. I just discovered the 1985 documentary by Ken Burns. It looks very interesting! T. (Enjoy the week!)

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  11. Wonderful post, T! Love the tight focus – it’s so interesting to see the statue in different contexts – it deepens the meaning somehow – the NY statue’s a solid fact, a gesture made permanent. I wonder how much its presence alters the way New Yorkers think?

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    • Thanks, Richard! Thinking back to my Staten Island Ferry daily commutes: Whenever we’d pass the Statue of Liberty, everyone (locals and tourists) would usually stop reading the paper and look up at her. A few would even wave. A lovely moment, each time! T. (At first, New York was not crazy about the idea. Bartholdi almost gave Lady Liberty to Boston or Philadelphia.)

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  12. What a fun post!! So interesting… We’ve been to Bartholdi’s home in Colmar a couple time– beautifully preserved with samples of his sculpture, paintings… and a room of Statue of Liberty memorabilia. Thanks for the tips of places around Paris to see the statue redone!

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    • Thanks, Rhonda! So you’ve been to the Musée Bartholdi? I’m very jealous. It’s on my list. The museum has quite a collection. Did you take photographs? Located at 30 rue des Marchands in Colmar, here is where Bartholdi was born. While researching the post, I enjoyed reading about his mother. According to one book, she’d drive to Paris, and then spend time with her son’s statue on the Île des Cygnes. I love this detail. Very sweet!
      T.
      (Enjoy the week!)

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      • You’ve set me to doing a little research myself. I’d heard that me modeled the face of liberty on his mother’s face. I’ll have to do some reading… I think you’d like Colmar– a bit touristing in the old center but charming at every turn–loved the Unterlinden Museum–local history in a now unused convent.

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    • Apologies for my delayed response! Oh, I’m so glad you shared your “Statue of Liberty” photographs!! I especially love the bottom right shot. Super cute expression. Do you remember any details from the visits? ~Theadora

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      • I actually climbed to the top several times, as a kid we lived in Queens and there were summer camp trips and trips with my parents. Don’t remember the pictures but one memory I do have is my dad looking down the spiral staircase when his glasses broke, a lens went hurtling down never to be seen again. I also remember being amazed how much the statue moved when I was in the crown.

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      • Ah, I’ve enjoyed your memories. I’m also impressed with your multiple climbs! Yes, Lady Liberty sways. In high winds, up to three to four inches! T. (And again, thanks for sharing.)

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  13. Loved your post…so many little things that I didn’t know about. You gave me a smile thinking about how Dior might have dressed Lady Liberty. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Karen! It was a fun post to create. Goodness. Lady Liberty’s fingernails are 13 inches long. Imagine the nail polish order! T. (Enjoy the week!)

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  14. Gorgeous post, I love the view you took on the Franco-American relationship concerning Lady Liberty- it was so refreshing! I especially enjoyed seeing the old photograph of the Lady under construction. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • Merci, Ana! I also love the construction shot. It’s all about the process. Barthtoldi is the one on the right, without the hat. He was quite dashing! T.

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    • Merci, Mélanie! As always, thanks for your sweet words, hearts and smiley faces. They are appreciated! Also, thanks for the Lady Liberty link. I will check-out the story today. As you know, I’m a big time fan of your daily photograph galleries. The recent nod to the Vanoise National Park was breath-taking. A little bit closer to the stars, indeed! Lovely. ~Theadora

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    • Merci, Tom! YES. Thanks for spreading the word about Lady Liberty. I appreciate it! T. (Say, I spotted your recent nod to the Gabriela de la Vega boutique in New York. Gorgeous shop. I dig her cluster necklaces, of course. I also love the Eiffel Tower sculpture!)

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  15. Pingback: New York, like Paris | Lia in Brussels

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