This sculpture is the so-called Adams Memorial. It’s located in Rock Creek Cemetery—which, incidentally, is not in Rock Creek Park but in Fort Totten. Henry Adams commissioned it after his wife’s suicide in 1885; he was later buried there himself.
According to local historian James Goode’s 2008 survey, Washington Sculpture, the memorial, by Adams’ friend Saint-Gaudens, was erected in 1890-91, and restored, by the Adams family, in 2002. Deliberately androgynous, derived partly from the sculptor’s study of Buddhas, it bears no inscriptions.
Goode writes: “The sculptor called it The Mystery of the Hereafter, while Adams called it The Peace of God that Passeth Understanding…Mark Twain’s remark that the figure embodied all of human grief led to its most commonly but incorrectly used name of Grief.”
The subject of this month’s upcoming Capsule: Henry Adams’ Democracy (1880).