Graveyard

Graveyard
The Matthews Monument at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Still As a Statue


Delaware Water Gap Cemetery, Delaware Water Gap, PA


Carved symbols in cemeteries are, to me, artwork.  And I suppose, of all the symbols one can find in 19th- and early 20th-century cemeteries, the most typical "artwork" is the human statue.  You can, of course, see the human form carved from stone in art museums around the world.  I maintain that 19th-century cemeteries were and continue to be outdoor sculpture museums, combining the art of Nature with the art of Mankind.  One of the things that has always awed me regarding carved sculptures is when a skilled artisan can take a static block of stone and create movement in it.  From something as subtle as an expression of emotion on a face to the unbelievable flow and texture of cloth--- when a sculptor can bring stone to life, to me, that is a master skill.

I remember the first time sculpture took my breath away.  It was in my Introduction to Art class during my freshman year of college.  Since it was held in a darkened auditorium holding 300 of us, and the professor showed slide after slide upon the movie screen, it was affectionately called "Art in the Dark."  I enjoyed it, no more and no less, but I remember exactly when the professor introduced me to Bernini and his "The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa."  Gian Lorenzo Bernini was a 17-century Italian sculptor, one of the leading sculptors of his day.  His mastery of marble carving was and still is incredible.  I am not a religious person, and I am not moved by Saint Theresa's spiritual passage.  But the expressions on the faces of herself and the angel---how can they be cold stone???  They are so full of life, surely if I touched them, I would feel the heat of their blood beneath their skin??  And the movement of Theresa's shroud---it must be of finely textured cloth, almost alive itself as it folds upon itself, in need a of good ironing.  While I am sure the expressions are the more difficult to execute, the illusion of the undulating cloth was what seized my attention.  And that is still my favorite part of the carvings of statues I find in cemeteries--the illusion of real cloth on figures of stone.

Bernini's "The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa"

Statues in 19th century cemeteries seem to fall into three types:  a likeness of the deceased (least common), a figure in perpetual mourning for the deceased (very common), and a depiction of one of the seven Virtues (somewhat common).  According to Douglas Keister in Stories in Stone, The seven Virtues as found in the Bible are Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice.  The most common representations is Hope, usually represented as a female with an anchor (an ancient Christian symbol for the cross).  Faith usually has a more typical cross or a chalice or a candle.  Charity is shown nursing an infant or getting ready to bare her breast, while Temperance is shown with a water pitcher or a sheathed sword.  Prudence is rarely seen, and is shown with a snake and/or a mirror, which symbolize the quest for self-knowledge.  (The mirror I understand; the snake might be a symbol of transformation since it can shed its old skin in exchange for a new one.)  Fortitude is often shown as a female warrior, while Justice has the scales for balance.  I have seen the Virtue of Hope over and over again, with only a few examples of Faith.

The mourning figures are pretty self-explanatory, and they usually are holding a symbol, such as a wreath of flowers (symbolizing the victory over death as the deceased ascends into Heaven) or flower blossoms which the statue is casting over the grave in remembrance.

I particularly like the likenesses of the deceased, especially when I can uncover their story.  Though some of the ones shown below are still a mystery to me.  Enjoy this trip through some of my favorite outdoor museums.

Figure Clinging to the Cross, Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Hope with her Anchor, wondering how she lost her head, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Willow View Cemetery, Clifford, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Father Time, maybe, or one of the Four Evangelists??, Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

Mourning Figure, Bristol Cemetery, Bristol, PA

This once was a depiction of two sisters who died rather young.  Mount Peace Odd Fellows Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Isn't this amazing?  This is the bust of Jean Auguste Girard, the nephew of Stephen Girard, a wealthy Philadelphian banker who started Girard College.  It's enclosed in some mighty dirty glass.  West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA
 
Jesus, missing a hand and some of the rays of his halo, Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA


Dunmore Cemetery, Dunmore, PA

Mourning Figure Strewing Roses, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Mourning Figure holding a Lily to her chest and a book (Bible probably) in her hand, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

Mourning Figure, Easton Cemetery, Easton, PA

A mother and son, Forks Cemetery, Stockertown, PA

Mourning Figure Strewing Roses, Glen Dyberry Cemetery, Honesdale, PA

Mourning Figure with Bible and cross (possibly Faith?), Hellertown Union Cemetery, Hellertown, PA

Mourning Figure Strewing Roses, Hill Cemetery, Brooklyn, PA

Mourning Figure Strewing Roses, Laurel Grove Cemetery, Port Jervis, NY
 
A metal statue (maybe bronze or copper) of W.E. Hughes.   I can't find any information about him, but he sits there, looking out over the Schuylkill River.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure with garland of roses, at top of massive Henry Disston mausoleum, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

James Dougherty, owner of a Philadelphia iron foundry, atop his mausoleum.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadephia, PA

Mourning Figure with cross covered with passion flowers, a Victorian symbol of the Crucifixion.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure dropping a rose bloom, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

This could be Faith holding a chalice, or it could be Temperance with a cup of water and a sheathed sword at her side.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure with wreath, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

I wonder who you think you are when a statue of a Roman Senator (maybe it's Ceasar?) adorns your graveplot?  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

This statue holds a sheaf of wheat, and the family indeed had a successful harvest during life, making a fortune in linoleum, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure placing wreath on a draped urn, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

A Mourning Figure leaning on an urn, next to one very big eternal flame, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure with Urn, grave of Francis E. Patterson, Union Army general, son of Robert E, Patterson (he has the lion monument).   Patterson the son was criticized by Gen. Dan Sickles for an unauthorized withdrawal during the war, but before the investigation happened, Patterson died from a gunshot wound from his own gun.  It was never ascertained if it accidentally discharged or if he committed suicide.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with another damn Anchor, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Praying Child, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure with Urn and Upside Down Torch, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Hope with her Anchor, Maplewood Cemetery, Carbondale, PA

Mourning Figure wiping away tears, Maplewood Cemetery, Carbondale, PA

Mourning Figure adorning cross with flower garland, Maplewood Cemetery, Carbondale, PA

Mourning Figure with Wreath, Milford Cemetery, Milford, PA

Hard to tell what this was, as she's missing her hands, Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, PA

This is a noted monument of a mother with her two infants.  Her one child died young, then her second died young, then she too died.  Her husband, a Polish sculptor, carved this monument in tribute to his lost family, then he returned to Poland.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Delaware Water Gap Cemetery, Delaware Water Gap, PA

Mourning Figure leaning on Urn, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Faith with her cross at her breast and her Bible in her hand, Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure dropping a rose bloom, Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

I would have loved to see this when it still had its head, Northwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, PA

Harry Wright, considered "The Father of Professional Baseball," was a professional player, manager and developer of the sport as we know it today.  He played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, starting in 1869, and as a manager, was the first to pay his players up to 7 times the salary of the average working man.  West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure with wreath, Quakertown Union Cemetery, Quakertown, PA

Mourning Figure strewing flowers, Riverside Cemetery, Norristown, PA


William Emlen Grisson, died age 25, was "a lover of art," and his estate was given to endow a fund in Europe for art students of merit.  Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Italian Cemetery, Freeland, PA


Mourning Figure strewing flowers, St. Luke's UCC Cemetery, Dublin, PA

Tired Mourning Figure with wreath of rose buds, St. Michael's Evan. Lutheran Cemetery, Sellersville, PA

Mourning Figure strewing flowers, St. Peter's Union Cemetery, Hilltown, PA


Mourning Figure with wreath, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure with wreath, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA


Mourning Figure, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure clinging to the cross, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure with cross and flowers, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure with wreath, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Mourning Figure, I can't tell what's in her hands, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Mourning Figure, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA



He was in the GAR and she is holding a wreath of rosebuds, Sunnyside Cemetery, Tunkhannock, PA

Moses, missing one tablet, while the other rests at his feet, Doylestown Cemetery, Doylestown, PA




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you again Tammy. It is all amazing to me all the workmenship and beauty put into these statues.I love how you write. You bring the story to life and make it so interesting. You are amazing yourself!!!! Pat Bonitz