JOHN HUDSON HALL
BORN OCTOBER XV, M-D-C-C-C-XXXVIII DIED MARCH III, M-D-CCC-LXXXXI
John Hudson Hall (October 15, 1828-March 3, 1891) was a successful paper manufacturer in the mid-to-late 19th Century. He was also a patron of the arts. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the great Beaux-Arts sculptor, who some describe as the American “Michelangelo,” was commissioned to create the Hall Monument in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Hall Monument features an angel dressed in classical clothing holding a banner emblazoned with the Latin phrase “GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO” which translates to “Glory to God on the highest.” The phrase is the name of a hymn known as the Greater Doxology and also the Angelic Hymn. The angel’s wings sweep upward above her head almost encircling the Biblical verse, Revelation 14:13, “Write: Blessed are the dead which died in the Lord, from henceforth, Yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their Labors and their Works do follow them.”
The angel is a near replica of an earlier work he created titled, Amor Caritas, translated as Angel of Charity.
The model for the angel was Albertina Hulgen who became known as Davida Clark. According to Nancy Adgent, in the article, “Augustus Saint Gaudens: Bringing the American Renaissance to the Cemetery,” page 19, MARKERS XXXIV, Clark had become, “Saint Gaudens’s mistress and the face for many of his public works.”
The gilded Amor Caritas, displayed in the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City, describes Amor Caritas by saying it “represents the perfection of Saint Gaudens’s vision of the ethereal female, a subject that he modeled repeatedly, beginning in 1880. The elegant figure in a frontal pose with free-flowing draperies and downcast eyes also appears in the caryatids for the Vanderbilt mantelpiece, displayed nearby, and in several [other] funerary works.”
The placard in the Met goes on to say, “Here, Saint-Gaudens made subtle changes in the drapery and added upward-curving wings, a tablet, and a belt and crown of passionflowers.”
Below the angel’s feet at the base of the monument is a medallion with a bas-relief portrait of John Hudson Hall with his birth and death dates on either side. The medallion profiles were part of his signature works and shows his earlier craftsmanship as a cameo cutter, which began when he was a mere 13 years old.