The Baldwin Angel and the Artist

Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Saint Mark 10:15

Like many great artists, Frank Hering (February 15, 1874—January 15, 1949), took commissions that included funerary sculptures.  The Baldwin angel is one such work which was carved out of flawless white marble for the Baldwin family plot.  Hering was an art student of the famed Augustus Saint-Gaudens, also known as the American Michelangelo.

There are many recognizable Hering works of such as the Defense and Regeneration, on the southern bridgehouses of Michigan Avenue Bridge  in Chicago and the sculpture Pere Marquette  in the Marquette Park in Gary, Indiana.  Hering also sculpted a statue of Abraham Lincoln that can be found in University Park in Indianapolis.

Close by at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis is his monumental work, Pro Patria which is a bronze he sculpted in 1929.  At the time it was the largest bronze statue cast in America up to that time.

The Baldwin angel, pictured below, was also sculpted by Henry Hering.  The enclosure for the angel was designed by Henry Bacon, who also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Baldwin angel has a doppelganger.  Doppelganger is a word that refers to two people who look the same.  Look a likes.   It is a German word that translates to “double goer”.  Popular television shows run photos next to each other showing actors and actresses together to show look a likes, such as, Christina Hendricks and Jessica Rabbit, Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel, Morgan Freeman and Kofi Annan, Margot Robbie and Jaime Pressly, or Stephen Colbert and Bob Saget to name a few.  To poke gentle fun, some sites also match the faces of dogs to their look alike actors’ faces.

In this case, two gravestone sculpture doppelgangers can be found in two different cemeteries in Savannah, Georgia.  The magnificent white-marble angel that marks the Baldwin family plot.  The sculpture is one of the most beautiful and visited monuments in the Bonaventure Cemetery, the cemetery made famous by John Berendt’s novel, Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.

The young angel holds a shell.  Tradition has it that the remains of Saint James, one of the Twelve Apostles who was sometimes referred to as James the Greater, were taken to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, which is in the north of Spain.  Saint James became the patron saint of Spain during the reconquest of the country from the Moors and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela became a popular site for Christian pilgrims.  Galicia, noted for delicious seafood, including scallops, drew thousands of Christians pilgrims who often carried a scallop shell back with them as a souvenir of the trip.  Before long, the seashell became a symbol of Christian pilgrimage and Baptism.

The angel wears a loose gown with a belt of ivy wrapped around the waist.  Ivy being a symbol associated with immortality and fidelity.

Right next to the Bonaventure Cemetery, separated only by a chain-link fence, is the Forest Lawn Memorial Garden.  When you walk through that cemetery you come to the gates of yet another cemetery—the Greenwich Cemetery.  In that cemetery is a near replica of the Baldwin angel—except without wings.

She holds a large seashell, same loose-fitting gown, and ivy belt.  Only this sculpture is quite discolored and does not have the half-circle white marble backdrop.

The two sculptures could be siblings for sure—if not twins!  Though the wingless doppelganger in the Greenwich Cemetery has not been identified as having been sculpted by Henry Hering, the similarities are so striking that I believe both statues were his creations.

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