Last July, when I walked into the elegant Musee d'Orsay for the dedication ceremony of the newly restored Statue of Liberty, I was not aware of the controversy surrounding her beauty. She stands in the main nave greeting visitors as her larger sister still greets them in NYC. This smaller nine-foot version now welcomes visitors to the vast collections of art and sculpture that are exhibited throughout the museum. But why is she here? What is she doing in Paris? And why is she dressed this way?
When guests attend the Second Annual GALA at the Musée d'Orsay on Saturday, September 29, they may hear the answers to these questions. There is a little known story about the controversy surrounding the original architectural drawings of the Statue of Liberty. The first two versions were deemed too voluptuous and sexy for American tastes. More clothing was added and her breasts were covered. The torch, not her torso, became her main feature.
Marianne, the symbol for France, shows much more cleavage.
In 1886, when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York City to commemorate the French-American friendship, which was forged during the American Revolution, many people didn't know that the artist gave France two smaller versions. One is on the Seine above the Pont de l'Alma car tunnel where Princess Diana died. The second, placed originally in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1906, has just been given a new home in the Musée d'Orsay.
This smaller bronze Statue of Liberty was the model that the sculptor Frederick Auguste Bartholdi used for his preparatory work on the much larger Statue of Liberty in New York City. Surrounded by trees and gardens, time and weather took its toll on the smaller statue. Then one night vandals broke into the park and stole her gilded torch. Probably a teenage prank but the results were the same.
In December 2011, the French Sénat voted removal of the statue to the care of the Musée d'Orsay where Guy Cogéval, President of the museum, secured funds for its restoration from the most appropriate group -- the new American Friends of the Musée d'Orsay. Seonaid McArthur, the Executive Director of AFMO said restoring her was an easy decision.
For me, the most elegant and fun event is their annual GALA that is held in the museum. This year, the theme is Impressionism and Fashion.Three hundred guests will have the entire museum to them selves as they drink champagne, dine on delicious hors d'oeuvres and listen to a jazz group. Curators, placed in the galleries, will answer questions and discuss the highlights of specific art works. The Impressionists will come alive as the curator's describe the techniques which artists like Monet and Matisse used to create their paintings.