Although we previously reported that the model for the Statue of Liberty was sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s mother, it seems that theory has been debunked. According to the French magazine L’Express, a new book by French writer Nathalie Salmon delves into the history of the iconic statue. Salmon says that the face of the Statue of Liberty was actually modeled on her ancestor Sarah Salmon, not Bartholdi’s mother. 

Sarah Salmon immigrated to the United States with her husband Adolphe, a Jew from Lorraine, in 1861. Adolphe went out west and made a fortune in California. Ten years later, he met Bartholdi, who was already famous in France. On a visit to Paris in 1875, Adolphe and Sarah visited Bartholdi at his studio. Apparently, Bartholdi was in awe of Sarah’s features and luminous eyes. Nathalie Salmon tells the whole story in her book, Lady Liberty I Love You.

See vintage photos of the Statue of Liberty under construction and check out the other Statues of Liberty in NYC and Paris.