Strange but true. The original version of the “Statue of Liberty” is not in NYC.
The Statue of Liberty is a copy
# The statue in Milan
The known name of Milan’s Cathedral statue is “The New Law”. It was made in 1810 – during Napoleonic era – by Camillo Pacetti. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi would have been inspired by it when, in 1885, he designed the Statue destined as a gift to New York.
Out of the 3,200 statues that fill the Cathedral, “The New Law” is standing on the left side of the balcony, above the cathedral’s central door. Pacetti’s statue has many common aspects with the most popular one in New York: both hold a flashlight in their right hand and have the head encircled with a crown.
As for what inspired the statue in New York, you can look also at “The Old Law”, standing on the right on the same balcony. As Lady Liberty, it holds the tables of the law in its hand.
# Other inspirations
There are different theories about the inspiration for Bartholdi’s statue. The French refuse a plagiarism charge: the inspiration would came from the Colossus of Rodi. Some English texts refer instead to the “San Carlone” in Arona (made in 1698, and 23 meters high) dedicated to San Carlo Borromeo.
Another inspiration – according to Tuscan sources – could be the “Freedom of Poetry”. Executed between 1870 and 1883 by Pio Fedi, was placed in Florence’s Santa Croce cathedral as funerary monument of play-writer Giovanni Battista Niccolini.
The reference going back to Pacetti, however, is the most likely one. Since the Milanese statue stands on the Duomo frontage since 1810, is older than the New Yorker by at least 70 years.
# An evocative analogy
Pacetti was a neoclassical artist who also taught at Brera Academy; he also directed the works of decoration of the Arch of Peace, in Sempione. The “New Law” he designed and sculpted has a flashlight and a crown, and stands alongside the “Old Law”, holding tables. The two sculptures, combined, impressively compose the Statue of Liberty in New York.
These are all hypotheses, but the similarity is stunning… Perhaps Milan should demand if not the copyright; or, at least, the mention on the New York Statue of the Liberty official presentations.
(Original article by Tiziana Leopizzi)