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The Solemn Sprites of the Arizona Biltmore

Nineteen Solemn Sprites dot the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, representing the resort's heritage and immaculate hospitality

By Todd R. Berger

5.20.24 The Solemn Sprites of the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix CREDIT Arizona Biltmore
Nineteen Solemn Sprites overlook the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix || Courtesy Arizona Biltmore

The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona, has 19 Solemn Sprites cast from designs by Frank Lloyd Wright that watch over events—and, in fact, the entire Earth—across the grounds of the iconic resort.

“They have a little bit of Mayan influence in their design,” says Madelyn Lydon, marketing manager at the Arizona Biltmore. “You will see they have their hands crossed across their chests and are looking down. That’s meant to be a symbol of protection with hands crossing across their chest, and they are looking down because they’re meant to be these heavenly figures; these otherworldly figures that are looking down over the world to help protect it. When you look at them, you can sense that solemness.”

The Solemn Sprites were created from casts of sprites originally sculpted by artist Alfonso Ianelli for Wright to be placed in the Midway Gardens in Chicago, Illinois. However, when the gardens were later demolitioned, they disappeared and were later rediscovered buried on a Wisconsin farm. Olga Ivanova Lazovich, Frank Lloyd Wright’s widow, bequeathed casts of the sprites to the Arizona Biltmore following her death in 1985.

“I think the Solemn Sprites signify the history of the resort,” says Lydon. “They embody our deep history and the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. They also signify hospitality. They are looking over all our guests and workers on property, and they are welcoming them to the Arizona Biltmore. I think it’s both our rich heritage and our immaculate point of hospitality that we bring to all our guest interactions.”

Planners can incorporate the Solemn Sprites into their events by booking the Paradise Garden or Cottage Lawn outdoors. History tours of the property are also available and highlight the story of the sprites. Groups of up to 3,000 gathering in the warmer months might book The Frank Lloyd Wright Ballroom indoors, among several meeting spaces, and explore the sprites on the grounds during strolls in the morning or evening.