Neo-classic Angel

TNEPESA

SIMMANG

SCHMIDT

1876

1907

The gray granite rock-face monument for Tnepesa Schmidt in the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, has a masterfully sculpted bas-relief bronze inset.  The bronze was created in Fonderia Nelli, one of the top foundries in Rome, Italy, producing works by famous European sculptors during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.  The foundry also produced works for Tiffany & Company in New York.  This particular neo-classical sculpture features a contemplative male angel.  His head is slightly bent leaning against his hand.  His other hand rests on top of an inverted torch which represents a life that has been extinguished.

The winged angel leans against a column that has an urn resting on top of it.  The urn was an almost ubiquitous 19th Century symbol found in nearly every American cemetery.  The urn symbolically represents the mortal body.  The Roman cross adorning the face of the urn is the universal symbol of Christianity.

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A Daughter’s Tribute to Her Artist Father

JAMES M. HART N. A.

MAY 10, 1828

OCT. 24, 1901

James McDougal Hart was a 19th Century landscape artist born in Scotland who immigrated to America with his family as a small boy.  After a stint as an apprentice to a sign and carriage maker, James began to study art seriously.  He studied art in Europe and also in the United States.  Later, Hart adopted the Hudson River School style of painting and is considered one of their major painters.  Hart’s favorite subjects were bucolic scenes of the American landscape that usually included cattle and farms.

The rock-face gray granite monument in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, for James McDougal Hart, has a bronze inset depicting a calf sitting in a pasture next to a sign with the words “HE MAKETH ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES.”  A kneeling angel holds an artist’s palette in one hand as her other arm is extended over the length of the sign and holding a palm frond.  The palm frond symbolizes victory over death.

In the right-hand corner of the bronze bas-relief is the name of the sculptor, “M T Hart.” M T Hart was Mary Theresa Hart, James Hart’s daughter and an artist in her own right.

The inset pays tribute to her father’s favorite subject matter combining it with a line from the Bible verse from the 23rd Psalm.  In an obvious nod to her father’s profession, the angel holds the palette.  The “N. A.” carved after Hart’s name stands for the National Academy of Design.  Hart was a member for decades, an officer of the organization, and displayed his works at the National Academy for well over 40 years.

Both of James Hart’s daughters, Letitia Bonnet Hart (1867 – Sept. 1953) and Mary Theresa Hart (1872–1942) were artists and both are buried in unmarked graves in the Hart family plot.

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The Spirit of Death

CHARLES ADOLPH SCHIEREN

BORN FEBRUARY 28, 1842  DIED MARCH 10, 1915

MARIE LOUISE SCHIEREN

BORN AUGUST 5, 1840  DIED MARCH 11, 1915

IN THEIR LIVES THEY WERE LOVELY AND IN THEIR DEATH

THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED

 

Most people are familiar with Gutzon Borglum, who was the artist behind the massive undertaking of blasting tons of rock and carving the face of Mount Rushmore with jackhammers to create the iconic mountain sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

But Gutzon was not the only sculptor in the family.  His younger brother Solon Hannibal de la Mothe Borglum (December 22, 1868 – January 31, 1922) was also an accomplished artist best known for his depictions of life in the frontier.  In fact, Solon was better known at the turn of the 20th Century than Gutzon until Mount Rushmore was completed.  It was only then when Gutzon eclipsed his brother’s fame.

Both Borglums were most likely influenced by the early wood carving work of their father, James Borglum—who later became a physician.  However, it was Solon who was an award-winning sculptor, including wining the Court of Honor at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.

His works can be found in many places in the country.  Solon’s equestrian monument of General John B. Gordon can be seen on the Georgia state capitol grounds in Atlanta.  His bronze equestrian statue Rough Rider Bucky O’Neill, as well as, his statue Cowboy at Rest are displayed in front of the courthouse in Prescott, Arizona. Evening, a statue of a cowboy leaning against his horse, can be seen at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming.

Two of his works, Inspiration and Aspiration, stand guard on either side of the gate entrance to the courtyard of the St. Mark’s Church-in-the-bowery in New York City. Other works of his can be found in Jersey City, New Jersey and New Britain, Connecticut, among other places.

Along with famous commission work for monumental public works, Solon Borglum also created a funerary bronze for his friends Charles and Mary Louise Schieren.  Charles Schieren had been mayor of Brooklyn (1894-1895).  Tragically, in 1915, the couple died from pneumonia within 24 hours of each other and were buried in a double funeral in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

To commemorate their lives, Solon created a dramatic and haunting sculpture of Azrael, the Spirit of Death, as a memorial.  The statue captures the moment of death when many Jews and Muslims believe Azrael descends to free the trapped soul from the dead body.  In Solon’s sculpture Azrael is depicted as a cloaked figure, her hood draped forward covering her face.  She is bent over with her arms stretched touching closed books on either side of her.  Two books representing the full lives lived by Charles and Mary Louise.  The patina of the bronze oxidized giving the sculpture a light green cast except for Azrael’s face which is recessed underneath the hood giving the entire monument an eerie appearance unlike any other in the cemetery.

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A Scottish Immigrant and the Declaration of Independence

Today it is right and proper to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the day Americans toast as our country’s birthday.

James Wilson was one of the Pennsylvania delegation members and was a signer, though, he did not sign the great document until August 2.  His greatest influence, however, was during the Constitutional Convention which wrote our founding document that formed our Republic.

Wilson was a Scottish immigrant who came to the colonies to find his destiny—which is now intertwined with his adopted country.  Wilson died in 1798 and was first buried in North Carolina.  His remains were removed to his beloved state of Pennsylvania in 1906 and reburied in the Christ Church Churchyard where six other signers of the Declaration are buried including Benjamin Franklin.

JAMES WILSON

A SIGNER

OF

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

A MAKER

OF

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

AND

A JUSTICE

OF

THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

AT ITS CREATION

BORN SEPTEMBER 14, 1742

DIED AUGUST 28, 1798

—–

ON

NOVEMBER 22, 1906

THE GOVERNOR AND PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA

REMOVED HIS REMAINS

TO

CHRIST CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA

AND DEDICATED THIS TABLET

TO

HIS MEMORY

—-

“That the Supreme Power, therefore,

should be rested in the People is, in

my judgment, the great panacea of human politics.”

                                                                                                          — WILSON

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The Sleeping Babe

RITA SCALANTE

Oct. 12, 1898

Nov. 28, 1910

This white-marble monument in the St. Francis Cemetery at Phoenix, Arizona, memorializes the life of an infant girl who died shortly after her second birthday.  A drapery on the top of the gravestone reveals a sleeping baby representing the small child.

The drapery represents the passage from one realm to another; the veil that exists between the Earthly realm and the Heavenly one—the last partition between life and death.

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You Don’t See Those Much Any More!

William Hayes Fogg (1817 – 1884) and his brother, Hiram (1812 – 1860), share a gray granite obelisk in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.  After trade with Japan opened up, the Fogg brothers founded a trading company to import silk, tea, and lamp oil and made their fortune.

The ornamented plinth that the obelisk sits atop has two white marble insets—each a portrait.  In the medallion bas-relief portrait of William he sports full, bushy muttonchops!

Facial hair was very popular during the mid-to-late 19th Century.  In fact, we had “whiskers in the White House” from 1861 to 1913   Every president from Abraham Lincoln with his chin curtain, who was elected in 1860 to William Taft with his walrus mustache, who was elected 1908, had facial hair except for two—Andrew Johnson and William McKinley.

President Chester A. Arthur sporting a mustache and muttonchops!

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The Stag

The white marble gravestone in the Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio, of Julius Wagner (born August 19, 1823 – died August 20, 1876) features a horn hanging from stag horns.  The stag horns symbolize piety and solitude and victory over Satan.

It also seems possible, a part from the symbolism attributed to antlers, that Julius Wagner was a successful hunter.

The stag when an elk is also a symbol of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, one of the many fraternal organizations in the United States.  The B.P.O.E. was originally a drinking club called the Jolly Corks founded in 1866 by a group of actors, who evidently liked to drink.  The club members made the fateful decision to change their organization’s name and increase their mission from frolic to public service.  Their symbol, obviously an elk, is a majestic animal as seen above in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska, standing guard in the Elks section of the graveyard.

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