Critics be damned

IN MEMORY OF

MINNIE KEY,

ONLY CHILD OF

EDWARD & RUTH SEVIER

WILDER,

BORN JANUARY 23, 1854,

DIED FEBRUARY 21, 1861.

— —

EDWARD WILDER

BORN DECEMBER 31, 1825,

DIED MARCH 25, 1890.

WITH PITY BEHOLD

OUR HEARTS. OH! LORD.

— —

RUTH SEVIER,

WIDOW OF

EDW. WILDER & C.C. COLLINS,

BORN MARCH 21, 1833,

DIED FEBRUARY 22, 1915.

In the most recent issue of Markers—the Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies—Joy Giguere writes about the art and social critics of the nineteenth-century who offered up their opinions about explosion of changing styles that were replacing the traditional gravestones from the Colonial Era.

Often times the art critics were at odds with the opinions of the general public.  One such example is the Wilder family monument in the Cave Hill Cemetery at Louisville, Kentucky, erected to memorialize, Minnie, the only daughter, of Edward and Ruth Wilder.  According to contemporary accounts of the time researched by Giguere, critics believed the monument to be a “marble confection that represented every offense to good taste—it was too large and thus inappropriate for a monument to a child; it was overly complex in the variety of figures and decorative motifs; and it was exorbitantly expensive.”

But a writer taking note, who was traveling through Louisville and visited the Cave Hill Cemetery had an entirely different take, “It was the handsomest monument I ever saw.”

The monument with its Carrara marble figures topping the large monument represented the Wilders—Minnie, the grieving mother, Ruth, holding a miniature picture of Minnie; the Father, Edward, raising one hand toward Heaven and one hand giving his wife comfort by resting it on her shoulder; and Minnie, floating above her parents as an angel.  Flanking the column holding the statues are two cherubs leaning on inverted torches—symbolizing a life extinguished.  It was a marble confection, indeed, but critics be damned.

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