My second photographic muse was the woman in the glass box: Monteverde’s Angel located at Bellefontaine Cemetery near Ferguson, Missouri. She is an 8-ft marble statue commissioned by wealthy drugstore and homeopathic proprietor Herman Luyties. In the late 1890s, while on his Grande Tour of Europe, Luyties fell in love with Giulio Menteverde’s voluptuous, possibly pregnant model; his Angel for Monumental Cemetery in Milan.
Luyties proposed. She declined.
Luyties commissioned Monteverde to carve her out of marble and ship her likeness back to America. Initially, she rested briefly in the great foyer of Luyties Mansion; the home he shared with his wife. Soon after, Mondeverde’s slightly pregnant Angel was forced to relocate from his marital residence to his hereditary family burial plot. To stave off the effects of pollution and weather, Luyties had her encased in a granite shadow box with glass facing.
When Luyties died, his was the only burial in a plot reserved for 16 or more, his hereditary plot, alone with his Angel towering over him. His wife and the remainder of their family are buried further away, out of view.