Eugene Viollet-le-Duc

A portrait of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
A portrait of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, born on January 21, 1814 in Paris, France, was the first architect hired to design the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty. He was hired by Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, who was one of Viollet-le-Duc's former students.

In his designs, Viollet-le-Duc wanted to rely solely on sheer weight to support the Statue's 62,000 pounds of copper skin. Therefore, he suggested that sand-filled masonry compartments be constructed within the Statue. Viollet-le-Duc also advised Bartholdi to sculpt the Statue's skin using the repoussé technique - the process of molding light-weight copper sheets by hammering them onto the Statue's wooden framework. Once molded, these sheets would be attached to each other with the use of armature bars. Lastly, Viollet-le-Duc helped Bartholdi design Miss Liberty's torch and the support system for her arm.

When Viollet-le-Duc died unexpectedly on September 17, 1879, Bartholdi turned to Gustave Eiffel to design the Statue's internal structure. Viollet-le-Duc's ideas however were not forgotten or unappreciated. Although Eiffel designed a completely new support system for the Statue, Viollet-le-Duc's brilliant armature bar usage and repoussé technique were retained.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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