Black Angel

Happy Halloween!


MARIO KORBEL
Black Angel, Bronze, 8 1/2' tall, 1912

Mario Korbel (1882–1954) was a sculptor born in Osik, Bohemia. His family moved to the United States when he was eighteen years old, and he studied sculpture here, as well as in Berlin, Munich, and Paris. In 1912, Korbel was commissioned by Iowa City resident, Teresa Dolezal Feldevert, to create this 8 1/2-foot-tall bronze statue of an angel to stand over the shared grave of her son and husband at the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City. When she died in 1924, Teresa's ashes were buried there, too.

Not long after Teresa died, the Black Angel turned from bright bronze to black, thus earning her name. Apparently, all attempts to restore the sculpture's original golden sheen have met with failure. Rather than attributing this rather startling (and persistent) change to oxidation, many stories began to circulate. Some believed that lightning had struck the statue after Teresa's ashes were interred, perhaps because she had not kept her promise to her husband to remain faithful to him after his death. Others believe that the angel itself is evil, because both her gaze and wings are downcast rather than raised toward Heaven. But the sinister color change is not the only reason people began to give this sculpture a wide berth when visiting the cemetery. Some believe that the statue is cursed and brings bad luck to those who dare to look into her face, or touch her, or even kiss in front of her! The mystery persists to this day, as the Black Angel grows ever darker and brave visitors continue to report strange voices, lights, and experiences even after they leave the graveyard!

This page was first displayed
on October 31, 2016

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