The Hawkeye

Local Angel Through the Ages

By Holly Newman


When Helen Gordan happened across old photos of an angel sculpture in her photography class’ dark room, she was entranced by the statue’s beauty and pictured it gracing a Roman plaza or a Florentine cemetery.

Years later, when she was walking through the Stanford Mausoleum, she saw the very same statue and “realized that [she] had lived near Stanford for 17 years and never knew that there was such an incredible piece of art in [her] midst.”

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The Angel of Grief today

According to the Angel of Grief Condition Survey compiled by the Architectural Resources Group, the Angel of Grief statue at the Stanford Mausoleum has been a local landmark since its installation in 1901. Jane Stanford commissioned the statue in 1900 to honor the life of her brother, Henry Lathrop.

The Condition Survey states that the Angel was carved from a single block of Carrara marble by the Bernieri brothers and transported from Carrara, Italy to Palo Alto by boat, horsepower, and railway, the latter of which was a nod to Stanford family history.

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The Angel in 1905

In 1906, disaster struck: the infamous earthquake along the San Andreas Fault Line shook California to the core, both literally and figuratively. The marble canopy over the Angel collapsed, destroying the statue and the tile beneath.

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The Angel was severely damaged following the 1906 earthquake and suffered numerous losses, including significant portions of her wings.

The left hand of the Angel was stolen from the rubble, an incident which proved to be the first of many acts of vandalism on the statue, as explained by the Condition Survey.

According to Stanford Newsthe same left hand has been taken three times since then, including the most recent occurrence in August, 2015.

In the words of journalist Rita Jamison: despite hardship, “the kneeling Angel still evokes compassion” and continues to be a center of gravity for Palo Alto’s artistic community.

Jane Stanford’s love for art lives on in this local gem. Bikers, runners, and dog walkers alike will always enjoy this wonder hidden among the oak trees of the Stanford campus.


Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.23.35 PMHolly Newman is a junior at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California. She is a staff writer for the MA Chronicle with a focus on political journalism, and hopes to pursue a career in either this field or in politics itself. Holly is the president of her school’s Feminist Club and enjoys reading, writing, and making music.

Local Angel Through the Ages