9. The Face of the Statue of Liberty May Not Be Who You Think It Is
Although it is often reported that the face of the Statue of Liberty was modeled after sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s mother (or after an African American woman), French writer Nathalie Salmon reports in her 2014 book Lady Liberty I Love You that the fair visage of the Statue of Liberty is 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. We may never know who it is actually modeled after (or if it was a combination of muses!).