Lady Liberty Banquet

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi
Lady Liberty Banquet
Re-created by Chef David Féau
Copyright © Frank Fedele/DK Publishing

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi first thought he might be an architect, and later, a painter, pursuing studies of these arts in his native France and the Middle East. Instead he became a sculptor, applying his engineering skills to building some of the most colossal sculptures of the 19th century. His most famous work is the monumental, enduring symbol of freedom: the Statue of Liberty. Barry Moreno, librarian and historian of the Statue of Liberty Monument, and author of The Statue of Liberty Encyclopedia, shares detailed information about the artist, his culinary background, and the banquet organized at the inaugural fund-raiser on November 6, 1875. The entire menu of that lavish feast has been re-created here by the brilliant chef David Féau of Lutèce New York and Las Vegas:

“Although Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was one of the most popular French sculptors of the latter half of the 19th century, producing a wide range of works of art, including statues, bas-reliefs, sculptural groups, medallions, busts, fountains, and tombs, he has achieved immortal fame in the eyes of the world with but one work alone, the colossal statue of Liberty Enlightening the World. This monument, standing on a small island in New York, has come to symbolize universal freedom and democracy for people throughout the world for over a hundred years. The Statue of Liberty, as the monument is popularly known, casts on its sculptor the unique role as the artist credited with the contemporary world’s most revered icon.

“Bartholdi was a native of the French province of Alsace, an area noted for its delicious wines. Although he lived most of his life as a Parisian, he returned to his native Alsace often, and was well-acquainted with a wealth of food traditions. While in his hometown of Colmar, Bartholdi would have enjoyed dining on such Alsacian dishes as choucroute, baeckeoffe, kougelhopf, and waedele, while the local wines included such classics as . . . Sylvanar, a dry Muscat d’Alsace, or a rich, full Gewurztraminer.

“In 1871, Bartholdi, who had already won a measure of success with patriotic sculptural works, was commissioned by Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent scholar and politician, to sculpt the goddess Liberty; Laboulaye planned to give it to the United States to commemorate the historic relations between the two nations at the time of America’s centennial anniversary of independence. The iconography of the monument was based upon French and Roman models. It was to take the form of the Roman goddess Libertas, which had long been a symbol of freedom in Europe. . . . Laboulaye approved Bartholdi’s clay study model for the statue in 1875, and then he inaugurated the Franco-American Union, which was to have full responsibility for the monument and the raising of money to pay for its construction. One of the great fund-raising events in the pains to build the Statue of Liberty was its kick-off banquet given at the Hotel du Louvre on Saturday, November 6, 1875, by the Franco-American Union. . . . The event was a glittering affair of some 200 guests, which included such distinguished names as French president Patrice de MacMahon, U.S. ambassador Elihu Washburne, descendents of Marquis de Lafayette . . . also present were prominent liberals Victor Borie, Louis Wolowski, and Henri Martin. The event, which raised 40,000 francs, was thus enormously successful both financially and socially. Based on newspaper reports, the banquet was described in Hertha Pauli’s 1948 classic volume, I Lift My Lamp: The Way of a Symbol: ‘The splendid dining room of the Hotel du Louvre was decked out in the red, white, and blue colors of the American and French republics. Two hundred guests, French and American (all male; the affair was strictly stag) sat at three tables forming a large U. At the end a gorgeously colored transparency depicted the proposed work. Its arms seemed to rise from the sea.’ The dinner was at once scrumptious and symbolic. Its leading dishes were specially named for the occasion.”

Lady Liberty Banquet

Serves 6

Potage Pritanier—Mock Turtle à l’Américaine
Hors d’Oeuvres variés
Turbot à la Hollandaise—Croustades à la Washington
Buissons d’Écrevisses de la Meuse (Sauce à la truffle noire)
Filet de Boeuf Lafayette
Cotelettes d’Agneau aux petit-pois
Poularde Caroline
Faisan et Perdeaux Bardés
Salade de chicorée
Haricots verts à la Mâitre d’hotel
Turbans d’Ananas au Kirsch
Parfait glace au café

Dessert assorti

Wines: Marsala, Bordeaux en Carafon, Haut-Sauternes, Cos d’Estournel 1865, Chambolles 1858, Clos Vougeot 1868, Veuve Clicquot extra sec, Clicquot superior

Café et Liqueurs

Copyright © Frank Fedele/DK Publishing

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