In March 2022, an image supposedly showing “Isabelle Boye-Singer” was widely circulated on social media along with the claim that she was the original model for the Statue of Liberty:
This is not a photograph of Isabelle Boyer-Singer (misspelled “Boye-Singer” in the meme). In fact, this isn’t a photograph at all.
An AI Portrait
The above-displayed image was created by artist Bas Uterwijk in 2021 as part of a series of “AI (artificial intelligence) portraits” of historical figures. Uterwijk explained his process in an interview with Bored Panda:
“These ‘Deep Learning’ networks 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.”
Here’s another AI portrait Uterwijk created based on Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait:
Was Isabelle Boyer-Singer the Statue of Liberty Model?
The viral image we’re concerned with is a computer-generated image of what the Statue of Liberty might look like if she were a real person, not a photograph of Isabelle Boyer-Singer. But was Boyer-Singer really the model of this famous statue, as the meme above stated?
The Statue of Liberty was created by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in 1886. While there isn’t a definitive answer to the question of whom Bartholdi used as a model, most historical sources say that the statue’s face was modeled after Bartholdi’s mother.
It’s possible that Boyer-Singer was the model for the statue’s torso. While this claim has been around for decades, we’ve yet to encounter any evidence to definitively support it. Boyer-Singer was married to Isaac Merritt Singer, the creator of the Singer Sewing Machine, until Singer passed away in 1875. Then, according to rumor, Boyer-Singer met and married Bartholdi, who would later use her image as partial inspiration for his sculpture. While there may be some measure of truth to these claims, the above-displayed image certainly isn’t a photograph of Boyer-Singer.
“Fact Check: Inspiration behind Original Statue of Liberty Design.” Reuters, 10 July 2020. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-statue-liberty-design-idUSKBN24B2L1.
“Opinion | The Real Model for the Statue of Liberty.” The New York Times, 20 Sept. 1991. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/20/opinion/l-the-real-model-for-the-statue-of-liberty-525091.html.
“Overview + History | Statue of Liberty.” Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, 28 Feb. 2020, https://www.statueofliberty.org/statue-of-liberty/overview-history/.
“The Statue of Liberty Was Modeled after an Arab Woman.” GlobalPost, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/02/02/statue-liberty-modeled-after-arab-woman/97387944/. Accessed 8 Mar. 2022.