The story

June 17, 1885. The Isère, a frigate of the French Navy, entered the New York Bay with a precious cargo on board: the Statue of Liberty.

Many people ignore it, but this event, celebrating Franco-American friendly relations, might well never have seen the light of day.
To better understand, we invite you to go back more than a century, to the heart of a great historical and fascinating epic: that of Liberty.

Our story begins under the Second Empire of Napoleon III, in 1865.

Edouard de Laboulaye, a French free thinking politician, is organizing one of his traditional evenings at his Glatigny estate, bringing together his loyal friends. A fervent admirer and defender of the American institutional model, he then put forward the idea to offer the United States an exceptional “monument”, on the occasion of the centenary of the independence.

Present at the party, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a young thirty-year-old sculptor from Alsace, immediately understands that this gift must take the form of a statue. An artwork memorable and remarkable, both for the moral values ​​it embodies and for its material proportions …

In 1870, the artist produced his first models, and decided to name his statue “Freedom enlightening the World ”. In the summer of 1871, he left for America, from which he would return as the bearer of a conviction that will never leave him: his work will find its place in the Bay of New York, on Bedloe’s Island. He would write to his friend Edouard de Laboulaye: “if I felt this spirit here, surely it is here that my statue should be erected, here where men have the first look of the New World, here where freedom throws its radiance on both worlds… ”

Alas, the Franco-Prussian war and the fall of the Second Empire compromise the good progress of the project. Defeated, France heals its wounds and raises its ruins. It’s not possible to involve the country in the financing of the sumptuous gift intended for the American people. The construction of the statue will have to wait.

Even if the work will never be ready for the centenary of independence, the will to strengthen Franco-American ties remain intact. The Statue will be delivered to the United States regardless of the time that its construction will take.

Bartholdi decides to erect his work in copper, a material light enough not to crush the framework that supports it, and tough enough to last for decades. The construction of the structure intended to support the statue is entrusted to Gustave Eiffel. He then imagines a large metal frame, on which will rest the more than three hundred pieces of copper composing Lady Liberty.


In 1876, through hard work, the hand and torch of the statue were presented to the Americans at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It’s from then on that we really start talking about the project in America.





End of May 1884: after eight years of herculean work, the statue is finally completed. Almost 200 tonnes of copper and steel rise 46 meters above the roofs of the Gaget-Gauthier foundry, one of the largest workshops in Paris, located 25 rue de Chazelle. The statue is now the darling of Paris, and receives a large flow of visitors.

A question remains nonetheless: now completed, will Bartholdi’s work be able to be welcomed in the United States?

Indeed, across the Atlantic, the construction of the base was interrupted for lack of funding from the Americans … Bartholdi still decides to send his statue there. Once on site, they will be forced to find a solution!

In France, ten years after the idea of ​​Édouard de Laboulaye, funding for the project has stagnated.

During the summer of 1875, Labolaye mobilized French and American personalities into a support committee for the construction of the statue: the Franco-American Union.

In order to raise the necessary funding for the completion of the work of Bartholdi, a vast communication campaign is launched: exhibitions of separated parts of the statue with paid visits, sales of souvenir items, photo exhibitions, lotteries …

It’s the same scenario across the Atlantic, where the funds for the realization of the base are lacking. Once the construction of the statue is completed in Paris, Joseph Pulitzer, boss and journalist of the daily “The World”, decides to intervene. In the pages of his diary, he appeals to the national pride and the disgrace of not being able to receive the gift of the French. Against all expectations, the Americans are mobilizing and the money is starting to flow. In the summer of 1884, the funds necessary for the construction of the base are released and work resumes, under the supervision of engineer Charles Pomeroy Stone and architect Richard Morris Hunt. 47 meters high, the building embodies one of the most important to the world. Two years were needed for its construction.





Nearly 120,000 French citizens and 160,000 American citizens helped bring together the sum required to complete the statue and its plinth.

Many ignore it, but the story of Freedom is quite simply the first collaborative funding of history (crowdfunding), having brought together two peoples on each side of the Atlantic around a common project.

The statue is disassembled and distributed among 214 wooden boxes, transported to the station where a special train of 70 wagons awaits them. In Rouen, the precious cargo is loaded aboard the Isère, a frigate donated by the French government.


Dedicated to the transportation of goods, the three-masted ensured, for about twenty years, transport and support missions on behalf of the French Navy on all the seas of the world. Combining propulsion with sail and steam, the ship is particularly avant-garde for the time.

After twenty-five days at sea, and after repelling the assaults of a violent storm off the Azores, Isère, greeted by a fleet of vessels of all kinds, anchored at Bedloe’s Island on June 17, 1885.

  1. The last rivet is struck in the right sole of the statue. Bartholdi’s work is unveiled on October 28, 1886, to the cheers of over a million New Yorkers.

The world is full of countless stories.

The story of the Statue of Liberty was forged by time and has passed through the ages, as testifies the color of her dress which, from a copper red hue, has migrated into a green-bluish patina. Born from the idea of ​​a man in love with freedom, this incredible historical epic could not have seen the light of day without the genius of one of the greatest sculptors of his generation. Its history is one of unwavering determination, mixing the values ​​of courage, resilience, excellence and daring:

These difficulties have been great at times, I admit. For a long time,  malicious spirits and critics believed that our initiative was, as they say in the United States, an elephant, one of those burdens that we don’t know how to get rid of. Few are those who really understood that our colossal statue was bigger by its moral value than by its material proportions


Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi

Finally, “Liberty enlightening the world” is the legacy of a long journey, having contributed to lastingly seal the bonds of friendship between two nations, on each side of the Atlantic ocean in short, “Lady Liberty” represents hope.

In the twentieth century, it was the first sight of millions of emigrants when they entered the American territory, thus symbolizing the reward of a long journey, and the culmination of a longed-for dream of freedom. This is how Lady Liberty has passed from being Franco-American to become universal.

Isère, for its part, has built a bridge between cultures, inviting travel and going beyond itself. Against all odds, this three mast braved the elements to deliver its precious present to the American people. Sunk in front of Locmiquélic, the frigate runs alongside the world of silence since the end of World War II. In its whirlwind, its wreck takes away a piece of prestigious history …

What if the Isère resurfaced from the depths of the ocean …?