He went to his table and started sketching, muttering a few words I did not understand. After a few minutes, he began to hum his favorite piece of music from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. He soon burst into full singing. He was in a very special state of mind as his hands continued to sketch and sketch some more.
“Look at this,” he said, showing his drawing. “Do you see now what I am trying to capture?”
I nodded and smiled. I could see an angelic face so similar to the face of the angel for the Anna Maria Smith tomb.
“I want you to pose for me. You are the only one who can do it.”
As I posed, he again explained his concept of the ethereal woman, who was mystical, beautiful, spiritual, delicate yet strong, heavenly, and loving. She was perfection of womanhood.
I tried to capture the look of sweetness, love, and strength by thinking of my mother, whom I saw as this ethereal woman Gus described. I remembered certain expressions on her face, especially when she was thinking of Papa or when she was sitting in our garden in Sweden and staring off into the woods.
Gus often draped a muslin cloth over me, working the folds until they were perfect. He wrapped a garland of flowers around my waist and set a wreath of flowers atop my hair, which was parted in the middle and gently swept to each side in waves. As he instructed, I stretched my arms above my head and turned my head slightly down and to the right.
Once completed a year later, the angel stood in a hollow niche with her arms stretched high above her head, holding a tablet. Her wings curved upward, and she wore a flowing gown that barely covered her feet. On her head was a crown of flowers, and a garland of flowers was around her waist. Her facial expression was one of love, peace, and harmony.
This was the start of a long, meaningful, and special journey we shared. When completed in 1898, the piece would be called Amor Caritas.
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