Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday search challenge (9/19/12): Most beautiful woman in California shot dead; where is she now?

It is said that the most beautiful woman in California during the last decade of the 1800's was truly a Venus in human form.  

The tale says that she was perfectly captured in a statue made by a German-born sculptor (not the one above).  But only a few years after she was rendered in marble, she was tragically murdered by a jealous lover on the street in front of her home. He then turned the gun on himself in a murder-suicide. 

Could this story possibly be true?  (I suspect it is, but being pro-searchers, we want details.) 

Three questions leap to mind:

1.  Who was the sculptor of the most beautiful woman in California? 

2.  Where’s that statue now? 

3.  What was the model’s first name and last name?

(Note that the statue shown in the illustration above is NOT the sculpture in question.  Can you find an image of the sculpture in the story?) 

As usual, please tell us HOW you found the answers to these questions.  (In particular, what resources did you use.)  And say about how long it took you to find the answers. 


Special note:  Beginning next Monday, Sept 24th, we're re-running the Power Searching with Google online class.  This MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) will cover all of the basics (and intermediates) of how to be a great online internet searcher.  It's free, and if you pass the class, you'll receive a certificate to indicate your skills.  Sign up now by clicking on the link above!  


  1. 1.German-born sculptor Rupert Schmid (1854-1932)
    2.Oakland Museum of California
    3.Marian Nolan

    My search string that hit...

    "german born sculptor" killed lover california venus

    About 10 minutes.

  2. Good Day, Dr. Daniel and all fellow searchers.

    I searched [Most beautiful woman in california shot dead]


    In there there is a note and video :
    CALIFORNIA "VENUS" SHOT DEAD And tells Marian Nolan

    Searched[ Marian Nolan Statue]
    Found: Beautiful Marion Nolan. And in the news many of the answers.,3318560

    An finally searched [Rupert Schimd venus staute 2012] to find location of the statue

    And here the answers

    1. Who was the sculptor of the most beautiful woman in California? R= Rupert Schimd

    2. Where’s that statue now?
    R: Oakland museum of California

    3. What was the model’s first name and last name? R=Marion Nolan

  3. Hello,
    A Google search of "most beautiful woman in California sculpture" will lead you to the
    Travel Channel Guide featuring Oakland Museum of California with a brief mention of the California Venus.

    Another search for California Venus gives you and the article here:,3868685

    The piece tells how Marion Nolan, a famous beauty, was murdered by ardent admirer Edward Marschuts on 10/20/1902.

    The California Venus made by Rupert Schmid, is currently being housed at the Oakland Museum of California (I think).

    Total time = 15 mins.

  4. 1. Rupert Schmid
    2. The Oakland Museum of California
    3. Marion Nolan

    First I tried an image search with the photo you provided, but that didn't really lead anywhere. Then I tried several combinations of words in Google Search until finally I googled "venus statue California" and found one by a Rupert Schmid who was active in Califonia in the 1890's. So I googled his name and came up with a newspaper article in Google News about the murder. It took about 20 minutes of poking around before I figured out what to search for, but once I hit on that I got the answer in just a couple minutes.

  5. Began searching for ["beautiful woman * california" murdered 1890..1900] and came up with pretty much nothing.

    Went for a "what the heck" search and used your title [ Most beautiful woman in California shot dead] and got it.

    Travel channel had this video but it wouldn't load for me.

    Searched for [california venus marion nolan ] and got this newspaper article.,3868685

    1. Rupert Schmid

    2. Oakland Museum of California [schmid statue california venus ]

    3. Marion Nolan

    Time 15 minutes which includes reading the dead ends from the inital search.

  6. The woman is Marian Nolan. The statue is California Venus and it is now in the Oakland Museum of California. The sculptor was Rupert Schmid
    San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 143, 21 October 1902

    I tried searching for "most beautiful women" California sculpture German-born in various combinations in both web and image search. My successful search was "California Venus" That led me to Schmid and then everything else followed. The newspaper article about the murder-suicide confirmed her identity and led me to the Oakland museum and other links. It took me about 50 minutes, although once I hit California Venus, it took only about 10 from there.

  7. 1. The sculptor was Rupert Schmid.
    2. The statue now resides at the Oakland Museum of California.
    3. The model's name was Marian Nolan.

    I tried breaking this into pieces but was unsuccessful. When I finally took a shotgun approach with [ california beauty marble statue murder "shot himself" ] I found it.

    I hit a Pinterest page that listed the basic details of the story. From there I easily found a newspaper article in the California Digital Newspaper Archive at which verified the backstory and named the sculptor.

  8. I searched for "california venus shot dead" and I got a google news report called "California Venus Dies Most Terrible Deat",3868685

    From the article I learned that Marion Nolan was chosed in 1893 to become the model of a statue to be modeled by Rupert Schmid and displayed at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The statue was exhibited in Chicago in cast and then cut in marble by Schmid in Italy.

    Searched for "rupert schmid statue of california venus" and got to the OMCA (Oakland Museum of California)

    This shows a picture of the statue called "California Venus" c. 1895 by Rupert Schmid and was gifted to the museum by Mrs. Frank M. Smith

    1. The sculptor was Rupert Schmid with the the aid of Professor Alessandro
    2. Statue is on exhibition in the Oakland Museum of California - 100 years of California section
    3. The model's name is Marion Nolan

    total time - 7 minutes

  9. 1.> Rupert Schmid - for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893), later rendered in marble by Schmid in Italy and shown after her death at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition - aka the St. Louis World's Fair (1904)

    2.>Oakland Museum of California (images on site)
    California Venus

    3. > Marian Nolan, born 1876? name used after divorce from Don Fernandez Cabrero.

    contemporary account:
    Google news archive

    from here:
    blog CA. Venus

    HOW: thought finding the woman's name would be the best entry point - tried different combos until CA. venus turned up on the Travel Channel site > blog post > Goo news archive > search for statue > Oakland Museum - about 10 minutes.

    interesting side-note - appears Nolan also modeled for the sculpture by Marion Wells that stood atop the the San Francisco City Hall until it was razed following the 1906 quake.
    Goddess of Progress

    travel channel
    murderer of CA. beauty, Edward "Ed Marshuts" Marschuetz

    CDNC newspaper account

    different angle on Venus -
    R's Venus

  10. 1. Who was the sculptor of the most beautiful woman in California?

    Rupert Schmid

    2. Where’s that statue now?

    Oakland Museum of California (

    3. What was the model’s first name and last name?

    Marian Nolan

    I searched: sculpture most beautiful woman in California. The search results list included a Travel Channel item that had in the blurb "Its muse, Marian Nolan, was immortalized in this work of art after being named the most beautiful girl in all of California." One of the items on the web page was "California 'Venus' Shot Dead" (I could not get the linked video to load, so I don't know what information I could have gotten from it). The caption under the video provided the name of the model. I searched "California Venus" and found several sources of the sculpture's name.

  11. Initially I searched for "most beautiful woman California murder". This threw up a short film on the Travel Channel Website as the 4th item. The film was very slow to load but The Notes gave me the answer to question 3: Marian Nolan. Searching using her name took me to the California Digital Newspaper Collection (, where once I'd mentally parsed the OCR'ed text found the Sculptor: Rupert Schmidt and the name of the Statue: The California Venus. Finally a quick search on "California Venus" gave an answer to question 2: the Oakland Museum of California. This site has a beautiful photo of the statue and a short history.

  12. I used google news and found the article detailing the shooting. Found an image after that using a search for "California Venus" on Flickr that was labeled Oakland Museum. Also, the Travel Channel had a video on it. Marian Nolan was the model and Rupert Schmid the sculptor. Took less than five minutes.

  13. At first I searched " most beautiful woman of California 1800's" nothing found then I searched German - born sculptor in California and then with 1800's but nothing found as well,then i searched Venus of California and among answers i found "California Venus" :

    1 - Rupert Schmid was the sculpture of the statue
    2 - Oakland Museum of California
    3 - Marlon Nolan :,3868685

  14. Used Google; used too much detail in my first searches; and finally narrowed my search terms to California Venus. Among the results were the Oakland Museum of California and an article from the Evening News, October 21, 1902 found on
    Answers to the 3 questions are:
    1. Rupert Schmid -- sculptor.
    2. Oakland Museum of California
    3. Marian Nolan

  15. 1. Rupert Schmid
    2. Oakland Museum of California
    3. Marian Nolan

    Typed in 'sculpture most beautiful woman in California' which lead to a search result in which the travel channel had promising verbiage.

    This told where the statue was and mentioned Marian Nolan and some of the history.

    Typed Marian Nolan into browser and got old California newspapers in the results with the article on her murder. A read of the article mentioned the sculptor Rupert Schmid.

    Total time about 10-15 min.

  16. Sculptor: Rupert Schmid
    Model: Marion Nolan
    Location: Oakland Museum of California

    I first searched for [California most beautiful girl] but it didn't give any good result (too many beautiful girls in California?). Then [california german-born sculptor] lead to Arthur Putman whose biography says he met Rupert Schmid in SF. And that Rupert was famous for the sculpture of the California Venus. Et voilĂ . I just searched for [rupert schmid california venus sculpture] and found that wonderful link:,3868685
    from the October 21st, 1909 edition of the San Jose Evening News were an article tells the whole story. (that was the third link, the first one points to the OCMA where the piece of art is right now).

    I can't say how long it did take for I perused and strolled through the results… But it was not difficult.

    By the way, Daniel, can't we imagine challenges in other languages, french for example :) ? It'll show the differences in search approach depending on the language and/or country (here in France we don't have as much archives or public records as in the US for example).

    1. @Passager -- I'd love to do a search challenge in another language and illustrate exactly the points you want to make. Alas, my French is terrible. (But if you'd like to write one, let me know and we'll see what we can do!)

  17. 1. Rupert Schmid
    2. Oakland Museum of California
    3. Marian Virginia Nolan

  18. 1. Rupert Schmid
    2. Oakland Museum of California: "California Venus"
    3. Marian Nolan

    After many failed searches focused on German-born sculptors in California, Californian women statues, and 1890s murder-suicides (the murder was in 1902!!!!), I did a Google search with the keywords "Most beautiful woman in California shot dead." One of the results led to a video on The subtitle of the video read "See how 'California Venus' Marian Nolan met with a shocking end in 1902." I then searched Marian Nolan murder and ran across the Tuesday, October 21, 1902 edition of the San Jose Evening News (found here:,3868685). The whole story is there. I then searched "california venus" and the first result is a link to the Oakland Museum of California's website where there are three images of the statue (here: The statue is on display there.

  19. It took about 10 mins searching with combinations of Californian, Beauty, Famous Women. I settled on "Californian Venus Statue" and struck gold

    Sculptor = Rupert Schmid

    The scuplture is in the Oakland Museum of CA (

    The "model" was Marion Nolan; shot by Edward Marshuts on Monay 20th October, 1902. The link below is to a newspaper article from The Evening News, San Jose; which gives some background,3868685

  20. 1. Rupert Schmidt
    2. Oakland Museum of California
    3. Marian Nolan

    how did i find it? googled
    california marble statue murder
    third link down has summary for a travel channel show about the murder of the "california venus"
    visiting this link and scrolling down to the text gives the answer to question 2 and 3
    question 1 by googling marian nolan sculptor and reading first summary
    took about 10 minutes. hardest was finding name of sculptor

  21. Rupert Schmid
    Oakland Museum of California
    Marian Nolan
    Started search with "most beautiful woman in California statue' which gave me a link to a travel channel video with her name in the synapsis. That also gave the name of the statue which lead to newspaper reports of her death.
    Took about 10 minutes total.

  22. 1.Rupert Schmidt
    2. Oakland museum of California
    3. Marion Nolan
    Googled - Venus sculpture california and got The Evening News - Oct 21, 1902 in Google news with an account of the shooting.
    the other link on the page took me to the museum catalogue

  23. Same results as everyone above. Should we post the results in the comments? It took about 7 minutes: 1. Google search terms: california woman sculpture marble shot venus (resulted in a link to the travel channel story that gave the name and essence of the story) 2. second google search: marian nolan shot (you get a link to the article about the incident in the California Digital Newspaper Collection.) 3. last google search: marian nolan sculpture marble (link the picture and it opens to the Oakland Museum). Marshuts (killer) was buried in St. Louis, I did not find where she was buried.

  24. The sculptor was Rupert Schmid, the statue is now at Oakland Museum of California, the model was Marian Nolan.

    Started search with "most beautiful woman in California statue 'Which gave me a link to a video channel travel with her name in the synapsis. That Also Gave the name of the statue Which lead to newspaper reports of her death.
    Took about 8 minutes Total and one coffe ...