Man of Sorrows

Charles Hutchinson

October 3, 1828

August 9, 1893

Emily Smith Hutchinson

February 25, 1833

January 30, 1911


The Hutchinson monument in the Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois, displays a stylized bronze bas-relief of Christ surrounded by four attendants.  The title of the sculpture is “Man of Sorrows” which is a traditional devotional image that developed in the 13th Century.  This sculpture differs from the iconic images produced at that time.  The artists of Northern Europe usually depicted Christ naked above the waist prominently displaying the wounds of His Passion often shown wearing the Crown of Thorns and sometimes attended by angels.  Here, Italian-born artist, Alfeo Faggi, depicts a seated Messiah with four attendants but no visible marks from the Passion.

Alfeo Faggi’s sculptures, like many other great artist’s works, can be found in North American cemeteries, including those sculpted by Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Aldabert Volck, Felix Weihs de Weldon, Karl Bitter, Martin Milmore, Alexander Milne Calder, T. M. Brady, Albin Polasek, Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, William Wetmore Story, Edward V. Valentine, Nellie Walker, Lorado Taft, Sally James Farnham, Adolph Alexander Weinman, Solon Borglum, and John Gutzon Borglum, a veritable who’s who in the art world.  These artists were able to earn a living creating sculptures, public and private.

Alfeo Faggi was born in Florence, Italy on September 11, 1885.  He studied art with his father—a fresco painter, as well as, studying at the Academia Belle Arti.  In 1913, Faggi immigrated to the United States to begin his art career.  Faggi is most well-known for his stylized forms and anti-Classical religious sculptures and paintings.  Faggi died October 17, 1966 at Woodstock, New York.

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In Stone and Iron

The A. C. Peck mausoleum and the Lynes-Peters mausoleum in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, both display the winged hourglass symbol prominently.

The Peck mausoleum displays the symbol on the iron gate that guards the entrance to the tomb.  The Lynes-Peters mausoleum has the motif carved on the lintel above the doorway.

There are several expressions in the American lexicon that express how fleeting our time on this Earth is, how this temporal life is short. The grand old soap opera, Days of Our Lives, has as their catchphrase, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”  Life measured by the grains of sand slip through one side of the hourglass to the other in a flash.

The hourglass symbol on a gravestone, often shown with wings, as it is in these two examples represent the same thought of time fleeting by quickly reminding us of the expression “Time Flies.”  This symbol, a winged hourglass, brings that expression to life, so to speak.

A reminder in stone and iron that life is short and that time is fleeting, every minute of every day brings one closer and closer to death.

It is also an admonition to us NOT to put off making that phone call to an ailing parent, sending that letter to a distant friend, mailing that birthday card even if it’s a day late, getting that present purchased and wrapped to celebrate an anniversary, or the simple act of telling those who you love that you do before it is too late and time has taken flight.

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The Cross and the Crown

The stained-glass window in a mausoleum in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, displays a radiant cross and crown. The crown is a symbol of glory and victory over death.  The reward awaits in Heaven where the victor will receive a crown of victory. The cross represents the suffering of Christ and is a universal symbol of Christianity.

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Walking Past the Mundane

Sometimes we walk by the mundane and pay no attention like I did recently in a cemetery in Kentucky.  Then when I looked across the cemetery, I suddenly spotted a wide variety of basket hangers.

I must admit, I never paid attention to them before, but this cemetery had so many different kinds I found myself walking back through the cemetery just to snap pictures of them.

And, they came in all sorts of shapes and sizes—single hangers, double hangers, or butterflies, birds, hummingbirds, bird houses, and bunnies—oh, my.

Some were adorned with a simple cross, while others looked like lampposts and others were just plain iron rods bent and shaped to hold baskets.

Some may have had religious meaning—like the butterfly—which not only represents the resurrection but also the transformation from life to death and then to the next life.

Others most likely were chosen because the deceased or the family of the deceased just plain liked the design—like with the bird house or the bunnies.

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Art Nouveau

The Tiedeman mausoleum in the Bonaventure Cemetery, in Savannah, Georgia, with a rounded roof line is an outstanding example of Art Nouveau design.  The flowing design on the bronze doors exhibit the characteristics of the movement that made it popular.

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.

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It’s all about the business








Fred Wessels, Senior was born on October 26th, 1879, in Savannah, Georgia, and died July 31st, 1950, in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  He was buried in his hometown in a gray granite Art Deco mausoleum in the Bonaventure Cemetery.

The mausoleum has the horizontal lines and the geometric patterns that are characteristic of the style. Art Deco is a design movement from the 1920s that marked a break from the fluid and flowing Art Nouveau designs of the 1890s. The term ‘Art Deco’ is derived from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, an exhibition of artists that showed their work in Paris in 1925.  Arts Décoratifs was eventually truncated to Art Deco.

Wessels was a successful banker and businessman who wanted to be remembered for founding three insurance and banking businesses.  To make sure passersby were witness to his success a bronze plaque was affixed to the side of the tomb with his bas-relief portrait touting his accomplishments.

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Which Bearded Mythological Character Is More Buff?

The face of the Owen and Ann Cwathmey Monument at the Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky

There are many images of Death at the door.  The question when the door opens is, “Who is knocking—is it the Grim Reaper or is it Father Time?”

The differences between the two are subtle, especially since they are both often seen with the same instruments—the hourglass and the scythe.  The main difference is in body type and clothing.

Father Time is a good eater and, as so, is usually depicted as a portly figure whereas the Grim Reaper spends more time at the gym and is more svelte and in shape—often depicted without a shirt exposing a muscular body.  Swinging the scythe while harvesting souls is a great ab exercise.

Father Time is often depicted wearing a long robe as he ushers out the passing year while the Grim Reaper is seen sporting a cloth around his lower regions.

SENG-EICHER sun dial marker–It is appropriate for Father Time to be on and instrument of Time!

So, now when you hear the knocking, you’ll know the difference when you open the door!

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