New York’s Statue of Liberty, erected in 1886, has an older sister in Florence and the two of them are going to celebrate together the 200th anniversary of the beginning of diplomatic relations between Florence, the then capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, and the United States. The Florentine statue titled ‘Statua dell Libertà della Poesia’ – Statue of Freedom of Poetry – is the work of the sculptor Pio Fedi, who completed in 1883 as part of the funeral monument to Giovan Battista Niccolini, an almost unknown poet of the Risorgimento period, and it is located on the counter-façade of the Basilica of Santa Croce.
It is not a certainty, but it seems very probable that Frédéric Bartholdi, the designer of the American Statue of Liberty, a fervent republican, Mason, and unconditional admirer of Garibaldi, drew inspiration from the Fedi’s sculpture during his travels in Italy. Indeed, the similarities between the two statues are quite extraordinary, as is the common allegorical message: both are formally inspired by classical Greek-Roman models and portrait Liberty as a strong, young woman and matronly in shape; in both cases she is togated and proudly wears a radial crown while holding in her hands allegorical symbols. For Fedi these are a broken chain, while for Bartholdi, who also put a broken chain at the feet of the American colossus, they are the torch of reason and the Declaration of Independence.
‘Sisters in Liberty‘ curated by David G. Wilkins, Ann Thomas Wilkins, Giuseppe De Micheli, and Paola Vojnovic will be inaugurated in October, however the original ‘Freedom of Poetry‘ is anchored to the floor of S. Croce. For this reason, the exhibition will present an exact resin copy that has been made by Kent State University using the most sophisticated 3D scanning techniques developed, so far for medical diagnostic purposes.