Sunday, June 5, 2011

U.S. Capitol Statue of Freedom Replicas

You may not know her name. She seems to play second fiddle to her sister, Ms. Liberty. She is ‘Freedom’ and stands high atop the U.S. Capitol dome. The bronze Statue of Freedom by Thomas Crawford is the crowning feature of the dome of the United States Capitol. The statue is a classical female figure of Freedom wearing flowing draperies. Her right hand rests upon the hilt of a sheathed sword; her left holds a laurel wreath of victory and the shield of the United States with thirteen stripes. Her helmet, encircled by stars and features a crest composed of an eagle's head, feathers, and talons, is a reference to the headdress of Native Americans. A brooch inscribed "U.S." secures her fringed robes. She stands on a cast-iron globe encircled with the words E Pluribus Unum, the national motto at the time of her placement atop the dome. The lower part of the base is decorated with fasces and wreaths. Ten bronze points tipped with platinum are attached to her headdress, shoulders, and shield for protection from lightning. The bronze statue stands 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Her crest rises 288 feet above the east front plaza. On May 9, 1993, after almost 130 years in place, the bronze statue was removed from its pedestal by helicopter for restoration. The work was needed because of extensive pitting and corrosion on the surface of the bronze and because of a crack and rusting on the cast-iron pedestal. A plaster model of the Freedom statue, which had been in storage for 25 years, was reassembled and restored in the basement rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building, where it was returned to public display in January 1993. In late 2008 the model was relocated to the new Capitol Visitor Center, where it is now a focal point of Emancipation Hall. Miniature replicas of the Statue of Freedom are available and they seem to be missing from many souvenir building collectors’ shelves. I’ve seen them produced in metal, resin and even as a bell.

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