LOUIS G. BRUSA
1886 – 1937
1890 — 1957
The Hope Cemetery at Barre, Vermont, features some of the best carved granite funerary sculptures in the United States. The cemetery is a favorite on the rock of Ages granite tour.
Two of the stand-out gravestones in a granite sea of expertly carved monuments center around Luigi Giovanni “Louis” Brusa, who was a master Barre stone carver. One of the gravestone was carved by his expert hands, the other is a tribute to him. Louis Brusa, born in Como, Italy, immigrated to the United States and settled in Barre, Vermont, widely recognized as the “Granite Capital of the World.”
The gravestone, known as the “Bored Angel” or as the “Sitting Angel,” was carved by sculptor Brusa for his parents, Ernesto Brusa (1851 – 1920) and Maria Brusa (1856 – 1934). Unlike most cemetery angels who point upward to the Heavens or look down in solitary grief, this one, sits cross legged with her head resting on her palm, and nonchalantly holding the trumpet in her lap that sounds the Second coming. She does all of this with a totally bored expression. The gravestone demonstrates Brusa’s ability to capture a moment and a relaxed pose of the human body making it look lifelike or in this case angelic!
The other gravestone dubbed the “Dying Man” is Brusa’s own carved by his friend and fellow stone carver Don Coletti. Brusa was dying of silicosis, a long-term lung disease. The disease often affects sculptors who inhale large amounts of crystalline silica dust, usually over the course of many years. No doubt Brusa worked in a cloud of dust and breathing in the airborne dust particles as he created sculptures throughout his illustrious career. Before his death, Brusa commissioned Coletti to sculpt a dying man dying of silicosis. Brusa wanted his monument to be a cautionary tale to other carvers. The woman standing next to him is reportedly his wife, but some Barre wags whispered that she bore a stronger resemblance to his mistress.
Ventilation systems have been added to stone carver’s shops which have made it much safer for the artisans.