Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Girl in the Shadow Box

This beautiful monument is located at Bellefontanie Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. Wish I could have gotten better photos. She is quite beautiful but the glass and the sun were not cooperating with me.

She comes with an interesting story.  According to A Journey through History Touring Bellefontaine Cemetery (a pamphlet I picked up at the front office of the cemetery):
During a trip to Italy in the early 1900's, Herman Luyties, owner of the first proprietary drug store in St. Louis, met a voluptuous model for an Italian sculptor.  He fell in love with her and proposed, but she declined.  Heartbroken, Luyties commissioned the sculptor to render a 12-foot marble statue of his beloved.  The statue was shipped to St. Louis, where he kept it in the foyer of his Portland Place home.  The several-ton statue was soon moved, because of its extreme weight, to the family burial plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery.  When the weather began to deteriorate the marble he had her enclosed in the glass-fronted case.  Luyties died at the age of 50 and was buried at the foot of "the girl in the shadow box". 
I have found a little more information on this beautiful monument in the book Movers and Shakers Scalawags and Suffragettes Tales From Bellefontaine Cemetery by Carol Ferring Shepley. 
The 12-foot-tall statue is a copy of an angel by Italian sculptor Giulio Monteverde.  The original graces the monument of a wealthy Genose merchant named Francisco Oneto. Many copies of this angel have made its way to American cemeteries, but Luyties copy differs from most because she lacks wings.  She also has an attitude. The Genose statue expresses purity even though she looks up from under her curls very directly at the viewer.  That direct glance turned flirtatious, however, in the Luyties monument, as has her entire posture: Her leg is cocked, her hips sway, and her arms are crossed in casual disdain.  Her swelling belly beneath billowing drapery can only represent fecundity. The fact that she is protected in a granite niche behind a glass front only adds to her allure.
Here is also a varied copy of the original angel located in another part of Bellefontaine cemetery.  The two main differences are the wings and the hair, otherwise near matches.


  1. The shadows on the 2nd photo look great! You're making me wish I had spent alot more time in St. Louis!!

  2. Your photos perfectly capture her - I just was in this cemetery a couple of weeks ago. The story I have heard was that his wife was annoyed with his obsession with this woman - hence, his is the only grave at this site - the rest of the family refused to be buried at this location and are buried elsewhere in the cemetery.