Born in Colmar, Alsace, France, he studied architecture in Colmar and then went to Paris to further his studies in architecture as well as painting. Bartholdi would go on to become one of the most celebrated of the 19th century sculptors, famous both in Europe and in North America.
The work for which he is most famous is the Statue of Liberty, donated by the government of France in 1886 to the United States. The face of the Statue of Liberty is said to be that of Bartholdi’s mother. Before starting his commission, Bartholdi traveled to America to personally select New York Harbor as the site for the statue.
His European work, The Lion of Belfort, at Belfort, France, is one of his most popular and well known. A massive sculpture of a lion, it is carved into the side of a mountain, depicting the huge struggle of the French to hold off the Prussian assault until the end of the Franco-Prussian War.
Bartholdi’s other major works includes a variety of statues including at his home town of Colmar, at Clermont-Ferrand, and in Paris. Some of these notable works are:
- Switzerland Succoring Strasbourg, at Basel, Switzerland;
- The statue was a gift from the city of Strasbourg, France, in appreciation of the help it received during the Franco-Prussian War.
- The Bartholdi Fountain in Bartholdi Park, the U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, DC;
- The Marquis de Lafayette Statue, in Union Square, New York City;
- The four angelic trumpeters on the corners of the First Baptist Church tower, Boston, Massachusetts;
- the Lafayette and Washington Monument, at Morningside Park, New York City.
- Fontaine Bartholdy, on the Place des Terreaux, in Lyon, France.