Stanford Statuary

On a Saturday morning I headed south, with Grasshopper, to the campus of Stanford University to sketch one of my favorite subjects: statues.

We parked near the main quad and walked amongst the oaks and eucalyptus to the Stanford Mausoleum to see if there where any sketch opportunities.

In this location the Stanfords planned to build a mansion but their only son died at the age of 15. So the Stanfords built a university instead.

The mausoleum now contains the remains of all three members of the Stanford family. The entrance is flanked by two sphinxes. I thought about sketching them but they didn’t speak to me but some griffins sure did.

Two griffins now flank the path that leads to the mausoleum. The pair where sculpted in 1863 by Eugene-Louis Lequesne and then cast in iron in the 1870s. The statues once graced the entrance to an estate on El Camino Real and were later moved to the campus.

In 1978, an attempt was made to make the griffins the mascot of the university (to replace the Indians) but the University went with Cardinal, the color not the bird. The Stanford Tree is the official mascot of the marching band and it is routinely voted “the worst mascot” of any university.

We came upon the griffins while looking for the Angel of Grief statue. After sketching the left griffin, we continued our search for the monument to Jane Stanford’s brother, Henry Clay Lathrop. This statue is a copy of a copy, originally sculpted by William Wetmore Story in 1894 for a grave for his wife. The original sculpture is in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. The original Stanford replica (built in 1901) was damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. the second replica was created in 1908 and then refurbished in 2001.

I sketched the statue with my TWSBI Diamond 580 with Carbon black ink. To paint in the shadows I used a pen brush filled with an ink and water mix. The ink I used was a pencil gray called Viharfelho by the Hungarian company Pennonia. I picked this ink up in Japantown and so far I like the result (sketched the griffin in this ink).

We headed back towards the Main Quad because Grasshopper wanted to sketch some sandstone pillars, of which there are many at Stanford. I found some more statues to sketch.

These are the group of Auguste Rodin statues called The Burghers of Calais. I found a pillar to lean on and sketched one of the statues from behind. I love to sketch Rodin hands. It sometimes feels like I’m drawing a wild animal.

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