In March 2022, an image supposedly showing Isabelle Boyer-Singer was widely circulated on social media, along with the claim that she was the original model for the Statue of Liberty. Well, that image still continues to circulate on the internet with the same caption, but it is not a photograph of Isabelle. It isn’t a photograph at all. It was created by photographer Bas Uterwijk in 2021, as part of a series of “AI portraits” of historical figures. Born in Amsterdam, Bas has a background in computer graphics, 3D animation, and special effects.
“These ‘Deep Learning’ networks,” Bas told, “are trained with thousands of photographs of human faces and are able to create near-photorealistic people from scratch or fit uploaded faces in a ‘Latent Space’ of a total of everything the model has learned.”
“I think the human face hasn’t changed dramatically over thousands of years and apart from hairstyles and makeup, people that lived long ago probably looked very much like us, but we are used to seeing them in the often distorted styles of ancient art forms that existed long before the invention of photography.”
About the enigma of Lady Liberty’s identity, it has stirred decades of speculation and conflicting narratives, with some associating the model with an enslaved black woman. Some sites share the belief that Boyer-Singer was the model for the iconic structure created by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Others share the belief that Bartholdi’s mother or the Roman goddess Libertas served as models for the statue.
Anyway, while the Statue of Liberty is undoubtedly Bartholdi’s most famous work, he was very well known for another project. Years before he began the Lady — a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, dedicated on October 28, 1886, and named Liberty Enlightening the World, in French La Liberté éclairant le monde — Bartholdi was hired to design a statue planned for the entrance to the Suez Canal in Egypt. A project inspired by ancient giant Egyptian statues and, eventually, to the Colossus of Rhodes, but that was never actually built due to high expenses.