This is the Black Angel at the Oakdale Cemetery off of Governor Street in Iowa City, Iowa. She is almost 9 feet tall and is on top of a stone that is 4 feet tall. It’s an exquisitely crafted sculpture of Victorian Classicism and the angel, instead of looking up as typical in cemeteries, looks down. Supposedly the angel was bronze at one time and turned black due to a number of theories – evil, lightning, melancholy. She becomes very popular around Halloween and indeed, as I drew her, a carload of young Goths came by to see her. Lots of myths, legends, and stories about this one and why the angel turned black.
As I drew, I could not make out her face. The angel is so black that shadows completely obscure the features as she is looking down. I got out of the car to go up close and draw, but I only got the outside contour line as it got really cold and she is huge – very hard to get up close. She has a type of shroud over her head and a long gown with spaghetti straps that hug her form. Her left knee is bent and protrudes slightly giving the gown folds that show the form underneath. She is holding her wings as if the shield herself from a wind in a very graceful arc.
It’s the grave of Theresa Feldevertova, her husband and their son. Her husband Nicholas Feldevert (I have no idea why this is abbreviated) has the dates: 1825 – 1911, but Theresa only has the birth year and a dash: 1836 – with no year of death.
She is a real presence in the cemetery which is fairly big. She must be beautiful in the snow. I’ll have to go back in winter.