Now I lay me down to sleep

IMG_3763

HATTIE A. BURR

DAUGHTER OF

HENRY A. & HARRIET A. BURR

BORN NOVEMBER 9TH 1851.

DIED MARCH 3RD 1860.

 

WE KNOW THAT GOD HAS BUT RECALLED

THE GEM THAT HE HAS GIVEN;

AND THOUGH THE CASKET MOULDER HERE

THE JEWEL IS IN HEAVEN.

Even though the soft white marble monument has suffered from erosion and many of the features of the three figures have been obliterated, it is still obvious the image represents two angels aloft transporting a tiny young soul to Heaven.

The faded epitaph reinforces the imagery on the gravestone…“the jewel is in Heaven.” The gravestone reminds me of the prayer many of us said as children as we bent down next to our beds:

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I shall die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.

The little eight-year old daughter and namesake of Harriet Burr and her husband Henry Burr was buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery at Brooklyn, New York.

IMG_3766

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scipio’s Tomb, Classical Exemplar

The Alexander Moseley Sarcophagus in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Alexander Moseley Sarcophagus in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Many ancient classical designs are replicated in modern graveyards, often in grand neoclassical mausoleums based on the designs of Greek and Roman temples.  Less extravagant examples can be found, too. For example, the sarcophagus of Alexander Moseley in the Mount Auburn Cemetery at Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Wagner Monument in the Lakewood Cemetery at Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the sarcophagus of Conrad and Helen Schweitzer, buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Southern California, are both modeled after the Roman tomb of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus.

The Schweitzer Sarcophagus in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Southern California

The Schweitzer Sarcophagus in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Southern California

The Scipio sarcophagus was erected around 150 BC.  Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (died c. 280 BC) was one of the two elected Roman consuls in 298 BC. His tomb is now preserved in the Vatican Museum in Rome, Italy. It is an example of classical Greek design based on the same design principles used for the Parthenon and described in a trade publication for stone carvers, “Design Hints for Memorial Craftsmen”, November 1928, Volume 5, Number 5, pages 14-16. The magazine was published monthly at St. Cloud, Minnesota, by editor and publisher, Dan B. Haslam.

design_hints_11-1928_p15

In an article written for “Design Hints” by John Cargill, a designer from the Chicago design firm of Chas. G. Blake & Company, Cargill described the evolution of the classical architectural design principles, which he writes were conceived from the order that the ancients found in nature, primarily astrological, that were used in Greek architecture to imbue harmony into their structures.

The sarcophagus has three distinct planes representing the universe—the base, the middle, and the top. The base was symbolic of the Earth, the middle represented man and the gods, and the top of the sarcophagus where the scroll rests represented the Heavens.

The Wagner Sarcophagus in the Lakewood Cemetery at Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Wagner Sarcophagus in the Lakewood Cemetery at Minneapolis, Minnesota

In addition, there is much other symbolism embedded on the monument. The triglyphs represent the column found in the Doric architectural order and most likely symbolizes a temple. The rosettes may be symbolic of sun gods. Some of the rosettes also have a cross designed into them. The cross was an ancient symbol adopted long before the Christians adopted it. For the ancients it was a symbol of the sun.

The scroll work, in addition to representing the Heavens, also represented a bed. As Cargill describes it in the article, “the scrolls represent a bed; the bed refers to sleep and sleep is a type of death; and to the righteous death is but glorious transport to Paradise.”

The Scipio Tomb housed in the Vatican Museum at Rome, Italy

The Scipio Tomb housed in the Vatican Museum at Rome, Italy

The entire booklet can be found at the Quarries and Beyond Website: http://quarriesandbeyond.org/cemeteries_and_monumental_art/cemetery_stones.html.

The Quarries and Beyond Website was created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. It focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tomorrow for you

IMG_2996

HODIE NIHI CRAS TIBI

CHRISTIAN WIFE

TO RICHARD MORE

AGED 60 YEARS

DEC’D MARCH YE 18

1676

Two things strike me immediately about this gravestone in Burying Point, the first place set aside in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637, for burials.  First, we don’t know the name of Richard More’s wife—only that she was a Christian wife to him.

Secondly, I am struck by the stark message of the Latin epitaph: HODIE NIHI CRAS TIBI, which translates to, “today for me, tomorrow for you.”  This epitaph is another variation on the more common epitaph that reads, “As you are now, so once was I, as I am now so you must be, prepare for death and follow me.”

As if the skull with wings topping this slate tombstone wasn’t enough to make the passerby contemplate death and mortality, the gravestone carver added an additional message to remind us of our impending doom.

IMG_2997

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

F. W. Blanchard, Part 2

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Occasionally, gravestones and monuments give clues about the deceased that are subtle—and those clues can take different forms. In the F. W. Blanchard monument, for instance, there is a clue to what was a big part of Blanchard’s life and legacy resting on the lap of the mourning figure.

The scroll of a violin rests on the mourning figure’s lap, seemingly out of place, that is until more is known about Frederick W. Blanchard, the first president of the Hollywood Bowl.

Blanchard was born in West Millbury, Massachusetts, the son of a prominent business man. He made his way to Denver where he worked in and later opened his own music store, which flourished. He sold his interest in the business and kept moving west—to Los Angeles, where he established a music firm that promoted musicians. Blanchard became influential in the art and music world of his adopted city of Los Angeles, always at the center.

Blanchard:

Founded the Brahms Quartet

Served as President of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra

Served as President of the Development Association

Formed the Community Park and Arts Association of Hollywood in 1920, serving as President from 1920-23, which later became the Hollywood Bowl Association

Served as a member of the City Plan Commission

Served as Chairman of the Police and Fireman’s Relief Fund

Served as Chairman of the first Community Chest

Served as the president of the American Opera Association

Frederick Blanchard’s reach and influence in the city of Los Angeles, especially the art community, was far and wide. The tiny violin scroll, which goes almost unnoticed on his monument, is a nod to his interests and influence in music and the arts.

IMG_8818

Posted in Famous graves | Leave a comment

Remember Me, Remember Me

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away, Gone far away into the silent land; When you can go no more hold me by the hand, Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. Remember me when no more day by day You tell me of our future that you planned: Only remember me; you understand It will be late to counsel then or pray. Yet if you should forget me for a while And afterwards remember, do not grieve: For if the darkness and corruption leave A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

The mourning figure on this monument is to make the passerby remember.  She clearly elicits an emotion of sadness, even flat out despair.  The mourning figure is carved into the glistening white marble monument in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery at Hollywood, California.

This mourning figure has collapsed against the back of the monument.  Her head is bowed in sorrow, her hair covers her face, and she weeps in complete desolate sorrow.  Her body entire body is bent in a display of grief.

It is difficult to look at the gravestone and not be moved by the expression of grief represented by the mourning figure and feel the loss and sorrow of the family who erected the gravestone for Frederick and Grace Blanchard.

IMG_8818

Posted in Saving Graces | Leave a comment

Portals

IMG_4706

A portal is an opening or entryway. They come in many forms—a door, a window, even your eyes and your mouth are considered portals. Many superstitions about death concern portals, many of which come from the Victorian Age, some of which still exist today.

The eyes, for instance, are considered the windows to the soul. Victorians believed the eyes were powerful, almost magical, even in death. When a person died therefore, the body had to be removed from the home feet first (most people died at home in the 19th Century). In that way, the eyes of the deceased could not look back and lure a live person to follow the dead through the passageway to death.

The Victorians also believed that as you passed by a cemetery that you needed to hold your breath. The fear was that if one opened one’s mouth, that a spirit from the dead residing in the cemetery would enter your body through the portal—the open mouth.

Another superstition had to do with the mirrors in the home. After a death, the family very quickly covered the mirrors. It was believed that mirrors were false portals in a sense. The Victorians believed that the spirit of the dead could enter a mirror and become trapped in the mirror. If the spirit did so, it would not be able to complete its trip through the passageway from the Earthly realm to the Heavenly realm, or in some cases, to warmer climes.

The door as a motif in funerary art symbolizes mystery.  The door is the portal from the Earthly realm to the next. In Christianity, the door is usually viewed with hope, charity, and faith.  The next life in the hereafter will be better than the one experienced here on Earth.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Posted in Symbolism | 1 Comment

Art Nouveau

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Art Nouveau movement was a bridge between Neoclassicism and Modernism and reached its popularity from 1890 to 1905.  Luminary artists such as Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; glass designers Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi among others used long fluid lines inspired from florals and plants in their work.

The gray granite E. E. Walling mausoleum in the Laurel Hill Cemetery at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an outstanding example of Art Nouveau design.  The flowing design around the doors and the bronze doors themselves exhibit the characteristics of the movement that made it popular.

IMG_9802

Posted in Mausoleums | 1 Comment