Friday, August 02, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi & His Colossal Works

Today, 2 August, is the anniversary of the birth of the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. He was born on 2 August 1834. Some sources online give his birth date as 2 April (possibly a mis-tranlation from the French at some point?) Astrodatabank gives 2 August an AA rating: BC/BR (birth certificate/record in hand), I'll trust that.

Snip from Astrodatabank's bio piece:

Italian-French sculptor who designed and built the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York harbor; he also helped to raise the funds to build the statue. Bartholdi studied architecture and painting before he went into sculpture, and was the creator of many monuments in France.

The descendant of an Italian family which had settled in France, he was raised by his mom after the death of his dad when he was two. As a young man, Bartholdi was on the streets of Paris on the December day when Louis Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'etat toppled the Second Republic. There, he witnessed a scene which marked him deeply. A group of republicans had erected a barricade. Night was falling when a young girl, bearing a torch, leaped over the barrier crying "Forward!" Bonaparte's soldiers opened fire and the girl fell dead. From then on, the unknown girl with the torch was, for him, the symbol of liberty.

Bartholdi's love of the colossal was born on a trip to Egypt, during which, fascinated, he sketched voluminously the massive statues of the ancient empire. The idea for his own masterpiece was conceived in 1865 when he met Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent French liberal and ardent admirer of the U.S. and its model democracy. Knowing that in 1876 America would be celebrating the centenary of its independence, Laboulaye was urging that France offer a spectacular tribute to mark the occasion. Bartholdi proposed a monument to liberty, and his imagination afire, offered his talents......He met his model at a wedding, Jeanne-Emilie Baheux de Puysieux, a beautiful brunette with the figure of a goddess. He persuaded her to pose for "Liberty Lighting the World," and later, married her. The classic features of the statue, however, resemble more closely Bartholdi's mother.

I've mentioned the iconic statue in posts before:
Feronia & Lady Liberty
Emma Lazarus and her "Huddled Masses", but haven't yet taken a look at the natal chart of the sculpture's creator, nor investigated his other work.

Sun and Mercury in Leo - Leo loves to leave its mark on the world one way or another - and Bartholdi certainly succeeded in upholding his Sun sign's signature! I was tickled to find, upon searching Google image for other sculptures of his, to find a lovely lion - see below.

What I hoped to find in his natal chart was some indication of his pull towards the huge - the colossal as Astrodatabank put it. Huge and colossal in astrology = Jupiter. Here we see Jupiter at 6 degrees of Gemini conjunct Mars (dynamic energy) and in close harmonic trine to Saturn at 6 Libra. Saturn, among other things relates to structure(s), anything solid and lasting. There's another trine, this links Jupiter and Saturn to Neptune, planet of creativity and imagination - albeit Neptune was in the last degree of Capricorn, but still within trine (120 degree) aspect. I like that Grand Trine, it links exactly the right ingredients to create a colossal iconic statue!

A few of his other works:

The Lion of Belfort
From Wiki:finished in 1880 and is entirely made of red sandstone. The blocks it is made from were individually sculpted then moved under Belfort castle to be assembled. The colossal work is 22 meters long and 11 meters high and dominates the local landscape.

The lion symbolizes the heroic French resistance during the Siege of Belfort, a 103-day Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). The city was protected from 40,000 Prussians by merely 17,000 men (only 3,500 were from the military) led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau.
Instead of facing Prussia to the east as was intended, it was turned the other way because of German protests.
Reduced size copies of the statue stand in the center of Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris, and in Downtown Montreal — Lion of Belfort (Montreal).

The Bartholdi Fountain, sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, located at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington.

La Fontaine Bartholdi in Lyon, France, it depicts France as a female seated on a chariot controlling France's four great rivers.

Click for everything you've ever wanted to know about the Statue of Liberty-

 AP Photo


mike said...

I've never sojourned to the Lady of Liberty, but I have seen two of his works: the statue of Lafayette in Union Square, New York City, and his sculpting of the tower at Brattle Square Church in Boston.

Beautiful fountains and sculptures seem to be a legend of the past. They are rarely installed in public places anymore and one needs to visit art museums now to admire the more modern pieces. Same for the fine edifices of the old buildings that had intricate carvings in the stone. I've stated in one of your older posts that I luv the old-style gargoyles, which are pieces of art, too...some were massive sculptures.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I haven't seen any of his work yet. We haven't ventured further East than Columbus, Ohio thus far, and likely never shall, so photos must suffice.

You're right, these lovely structures are of another age entirely. Bartholdi did bring them a little nearer to home and to our time though.

Nobody ever did this kind of thing better than the Italians.
The fountains of Piazza Navona in Rome (among so much else) are unforgettable. Bartholdi's fountains reminded me of them.

If you have 10 mins or so to spare there's a decent amateur video showing and explaining Piazza Navona and its fountains.

I was there back in the early 1960s, fell in love with Piazza Navona - it was still a tourist trap of course, but much less so than now, I'm sure. International travel was still in its infancy then!

Nowadays public spaces contain, if anything, pieces of modern sculpture which, while often attractive, do not display anywhere near the level of skills needed to produce the beautiful work of craftsmen/artists of the past. We're on a downward spiral I fear, in that respect. :-(

mike (again) said...

I was in Rome in the mid-1970s. Yes, I've been on the Piazzo Navona with its many fountains. Everywhere I ventured, I was in awe of the surroundings. One of my favs was the Spanish Steps and fountain...mainly for the people watching. Rome is full of amazing everything in the material sense. I was very disappointed with the Roman Coliseum, as it was greatly defaced with graffiti and vandalism, but they refurbished it shortly after I left.

However, I did not particularly enjoy many of the inhabitants. Little kids surrounded me on several occassions and I could feel them frisk me (pick-pockets!)...what to do...slap them up-side the head? Simply sitting-down at a cafe or restaurant could cost a couple of dollars for water, place-setting, and waiter, prior to ordering anything. The many produce stalls had signs indicating the price of fruit, but I would be charged up to four-times the advertised price, I guess due to not knowing Italian and negotiating the price, but I did understand the Lira dollar conversion. Same for many of the hotels...much higher prices for tourists that couldn't speak Italian. I bought a ticket to Brindisi, Italy, to take the ferry to Greece...talked to the ticket clerk in Rome prior to departure (she spoke English) and she assured me I had the appropriate ticket. In the middle of the night, the conductor told me that I had to pay full-fare (again!) or get off the train in the middle of nowhere. Many other interesting "robberies" occurred while I was in Italy and I heard numerous other complaints from fellow Americans. Oddly, Greece was the complete opposite...maybe not now-a-days, though!

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Oh good! Well - not so good about your experience of being treated to their best "let's stick it to the American tourist" attitude. I sympathise. I was lucky in that respect as I was with my first husband (well "lucky" only in this respect - the marriage was a disaster after not very long). He was Italian by birth, had worked in Rome so was very familiar with it all. We stayed in one of those tiny old rooming houses in the cobbled narrow winding streets - I loved those streets! No luxury at all though.

I haven't visited Greece. Had a pickpocket incident or two in Spain though, and an attempted one in Tangier.

Tourists are fair game to locals, if those locals have to live in very poor circumstances. I tried to be understanding, on that basis - but when away from home and with limited funds it can be a wee bit disconcerting!