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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back to Olsany, I Can't Help It

"There rests in eternal dreams, our Hanicka..."  I do love these porcelain portraits, and they were very popular with Southern and Eastern Europeans.  The process to create them involved reproducing the original photo on a glass plate, and then washing it many times with chemicals to protect it from sunlight, temperature, etc.  The plate was placed on ceramic and fired at a very high temperature , and then the bonded photo/ceramic would be fired 5-6 more times and then coated with a sealing resin.  No wonder so many of them are still in such great shape!  Hanicka, this sweet-faced little girl, died the day after her 4th birthday.

I miss a lot about Prague, it was such a great experience, but I am sure you aren't surprised to find I miss the chance to go back to Olsany Cemetery and explore it more.  And yet there are those who think a collection of 500 photographs of one cemetery would be enough....silly people!  Many of these I took below contain gorgeous statuary.  Olsany really resonated with me, and I would love to visit it in the autumn and winter.  Maybe someday... Enjoy!

I wish I knew the original sculptor for this is practically iconic in 19th century cemeteries.  I have seen it in at least a dozen cemeteries in PA, NJ and MD, and it was an especially popular marker cast in zinc by the Monumental Bronze Co.  Imagine my surprise to find it halfway around the world.

A symbol for the god Hermes/Mercury, which I found ALL over Prague.  The caduceus (winged staff with two snakes) was carried by Hermes/Mercury, and he was the god of communications and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars and thieves.  Hermes was also the guide for the dead, so his inclusion, over and over again here in Olsany, makes perfect sense.

This was quite a memorial.  See the next photo for a close-up of the porcelain portrait.

Anna Naprstkova was born in 1788.  She was a businesswoman and ran a brewery and an inn that served as a meeting space for many nationalists, especially after the failed revolution of 1848.  She raised two outspoken nationalist sons, the youngest of whom came to the US in secret, got a law degree, and returned to Prague praising American women and their crusade for emancipation, suffrage and education.  (Momma was obviously a strong influence on him!)  He introduced Czech women to American sewing machines and he founded the American Ladies' Club in Prague to educate women. 

"Here rests in God!  Josef David, Secretary of the Kurmainzische Statthalterei, died 10 Dec 1872 at the age of 48.  Also here his aunt Magdalena and grandmother Auguste Poschmann."  The Kurmainzische Statthalterei was the center of Prussian government in the mid 1800's and was headquartered in Thuringia in the center of present-day Germany.  The building where David worked later served as the Gestapo headquarters in WWII.

Love this one and the next one!


Close-up from the last photo

This was in the middle of a ton of ivy, with no markings on it.  There was another photographer in this section, with his wife, and they didn't speak English and I didn't speak their language.  But I called them over to this marker and we all exclaimed in delight over it.  That fascinates me, how symbols/art can cross spoken-language barriers.  Or they were just being nice to a crazy American.

I am so captivated by this porcelain portrait.  They both died young, and that's sad.  But I can stare into the face of the little child on the left for hours... 


Oh, to have seen this in its entirety!

This is creepy without the heads/faces on it.  But I do love the dead body rising from the box tomb.

Am I not right about these gorgeous statues??  It was truly an outdoor sculpture garden.

Sacred heart, Bible, and anchor of Hope

The All-Seeing Eye of God is a symbol that spans oceans too

I wish this wasn't missing its top.  Is it a reclining child?  Or a lamb---is that hooves I see?

The hand of God coming down from the clouds to grasp the broken rose (deceased).

When I get a computer translation, I get "sweet shoulders" 

Antonin Molach was a college professor in Jicin, a city northeast of Prague.  He was a historian, a published author, a member of the Archeological Museum of Bohemia, the Imperial Geological Institute of Vienna, and the Geographical Society.  He was born in 1823 and died in 1880.

Frantisek Simacek (1834-1885) was a Czech journalist, publisher and promoter of self-help groups.  He wrote for the nationalist movement, but he tended to serve as a moderate voice.  He held political office, advocated for unions and vocational schools, and is considered a Czech patriot.  He died from a pulmonary illness (tuberculosis perhaps), a week after his wife died.

Not sure, but I think they were in government positions

This is their mother at the top, widow of Captain von Scheibenhof, daughter of the burgermeister Martin Kopecky.  Anna was possibly the wife of Arthur. 
Not a great close-up of the last stone, but even blurry, that is still one heck of a hat, Marie!


Anonymous said...

Nice photos and interesting blog!

I just visited the Olšany cemetery, and I really liked the oldest (north-west) part. It must look stunning in autumn; I'm definitely going there again next year to take some pictures.

By the way, the correct translation of the phrase "Spěte sladce" (as seen here is "Sleep sweetly". It's a common inscription on Czech tombstones.

HookMan said...

Great pictures. Thanks!

Call Me Taphy said...

Thank you so much for the translation!! Sweet sleep makes a lot more sense than sweet shoulders! Thank you!!