The statue of the angel is made of marble and is two-feet tall. The figure has "her arms...folded, and...look(s) holy". It is "graceful" and "polished"; Claudia thinks that the angel is "the most beautiful, most graceful little statue she had ever seen".
The statue, which is thought to have been created by the great Michaelangelo, was acquired by the museum from the collection of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Mrs. Frankweiler claims to have gotten it from an art dealer in Bologna, Italy, before World War II. When Mrs. Frankweiler closed her Manhattan residence a few years back, many of the miscellaneous pieces of art she had collected over the years found their way "to various auctions and galleries".
The New York Metropolitan Museum purchased the statue at an auction for the bargain rate of $225. If it is determined that the angel is indeed the work of the famed Michaelangelo, it would be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,250,000. The mystery surrounding the origins and worth of the statue make it a subject of intense interest at the museum and in the press. Claudia, however, is mesmerized simply by the angel's beauty. She feels that it bears a resemblance to someone she knows, possibly herself (Chapter 4).