Mourning Figure

I

MORAN

Mary to her Savior’s tomb

Hasted at the early dawn

Spice she brought and rich perfume.

KATHERINE A.         LINUS JAMES J.

The Design Hints for Memorial Craftsmen was an industry publication for stone cutters and monuments salespeople and professionals.  The magazine published articles about how to carve lettering, where the best materials come from, the meaning of certain symbols, how to build mausoleums, and the history behind various monument types, among other things.  In the article, “Memorial Types – The Sculptured Type,” by Captain John K. Shawvan, from April 1931, pp. 8-9, the writer gave a synopsis of where the first sculptural monuments were created, “Fascinating in its quickly apparent and material proof of the greatest skill of the hands of man, the sculptured memorial will always symbolize the power of man to express his deepest emotions without recourse to the spoken or written word.  Originating in Egypt, developed to its highest degree of perfection by the Greeks and handed down through the Romans, the art of Sculpture is one of our greatest inheritances of civilization.”

In the example portrayed in the two page article and the example from the Calvary Cemetery in Decatur, Illinois, a mourning figure dressed in classical clothing is depicted with her head leaning against one hand while the other hand reaches toward one of three symbols on the gravestone—a palm frond.  The other two symbols on the stone are a lyre and a sprig of roses.

The palm frond is an ancient symbol of victory, dating back to Roman times when victors were presented with palm fronds. The palm fronds were also laid in the path of Jesus as He entered Jerusalem. So, for many Christians, the palm represents righteousness, resurrection, and martyrdom, symbolizing the spiritual victory over death associated with the Easter story.

The lyre is traditionally seen as a symbol of Apollo, the Greek god of music. In Christian symbolism it can represent harmony and Heavenly accord and song in praise of the Lord.  In funerary art, however, the lyre can also represent the end of life.

Lastly, romantics have waxed poetic about the rose and the connection to love for centuries which has made the rose an undeniable symbol of love.  The sprig of roses are fully-blossomed and could be a symbol of this married couple’s love for each other.  The rose also has a religious meaning, differing by color.  The white rose symbolizes purity while the red rose represents martyrdom and the messianic hope that Christ will return.

I

The magazine pages from the article, “Memorial Types – The Sculptured Type,” by Captain John K. Shawvan, from “Design Hints for Memorial Craftsmen,” April 1931, pp. 8-9,
were provided by Peggy Perazzo who shares her vast collection of gravestone catalogs and resources at:

*  “Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StoneQuarriesAndBeyond/

*  Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues” (new web site – continuation of “Stone Quarries and Beyond”)

http://quarriesandbeyondcontinues.com/

The Quarries and Beyond Website and Facebook page were created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. The collection focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section on the Website that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

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Victorian Weepers

 

Calvary Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana

In David Robinson’s book, Saving Graces, mourning figures from some of the most famous cemeteries in Europe depict sculptures of beautiful, young, and voluptuous women often wearing revealing clothing as they mourn the dead. Often these sepulchral figures are referred to as weepers, and are intended to represent mourning and sorrow.  Since ancient times, women have been the ones in our families and in our society who showed grief and shed tears over those lost to death. Like the women in ancient times, these sculptures are depicted as standing over the graves in sorrow.

Robinson identified four categories of ”Saving Graces”–first, women completely overcome by grief, often portrayed as having collapsed and fallen limp on the grave. Second are the women who are portrayed reaching up to Heaven as if to try to call their recently lost loved one back to Earth.  Third, are the women who are immobile and grief stricken, often holding their head in their hands distraught with loss.  Lastly, he describes the last category of “Saving Graces” as the mourning figure who is “resigned with the loss and accepting of death.”

Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In the example from the from the “Granite Marble and Bronze,” September 1921, page 20, a company in Milford, Massachusetts the advertisement depicts a “weeper” with her head looking down in reflection and sorrow, holding an Easter lily sprig in one hand and the bloom of the flower in the other—as if she is going to gently lay it on the grave.  However, unlike her European counterparts, the Victorian weeper was usually not voluptuous but often portrayed as androgynous and dressed modestly in a diaphanous gown loosely fitted and flowing beyond her feet.

This mourning figure is a common sight in Victorian cemeteries and seems to be a combination of the last two categories that Robinson mentions, head in her hands stricken with grief but resigned.  The act of placing the flower is also a recurring funerary motif which is designed to remind the viewer that life is short. The Victorian funerary symbolism associated with flowers used the Easter lily to represent the resurrection.

Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

According to, Victorian Cemetery Art by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1972, “The large amounts of space in the Victorian cemetery were to revolutionize cemetery art, and permit the use of sculpture in a way that the crowded churchyard had never allowed.”  Now there was room in the garden cemeteries of the nineteenth century for lavish monuments. Gillon goes on to write, “Sepulchral sculpture, with its prone effigies and kneeling weepers, had flowered in the past, but only for the rich and powerful.”

Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The advertisement page from the “Product of a Milford Granite Plant,” from “Granite Marble and Bronze,” September 1921, pp. 20, of Milford, Massachusetts was provided by Peggy Perazzo who shares her vast collection of gravestone catalogs and resources at:

*  “Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StoneQuarriesAndBeyond/

*  Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues” (new web site – continuation of “Stone Quarries and Beyond”)

http://quarriesandbeyondcontinues.com/

The Quarries and Beyond Website and Facebook page were created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. The collection focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section on the Website that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

Posted in Saving Graces, Symbolism | 1 Comment

To Capture a Tragic Moment

The George Washington De Long monument in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, features a sculpture of an explorer, hand above this face, scarf blown back, peering into the blinding snow.  The softness of the edges of the sculpture, give the statue a windswept appearance that portrays De Long’s last moments alive.

Lieutenant Commander De Long (August 22, 1844 – October 31, 1881) was an American Navy officer and explorer who was in search of passage to the North Pole by way of the Bearing Strait.  In 1879, he sailed northward from San Francisco on the USS Jeannette with a crew of 33 men.  The ship became trapped in the Chukchi Sea, surrounded by shifting sheets of ice which eventually crushed it.  The crew divided themselves into three groups, led by Executive Officer Charles Chipp, Chief Engineer George Melville, and De Long, each with a small boat which they dragged on the ice until they found open water in a hope to find land and rescue.

Melville’s boat reached land and the entire crew was rescued.  Chipp’s boat was lost and no trace of it or its crew has ever been found.  De Long’s crew made it to land but only two of the men survived—the two men who went ahead to find aid.  The rest of the crew, including De Long, perished in the snow.  Twenty men in total were lost during the expedition.

Melville went back in search of the crew members and found the frozen bodies of De Long’s crew.  De Long was found in a standing position, the last of his crew to die.  He was found with his journal and it is suspected, he wrote his last entry on the day he died.

To memorialize the Lieutenant Commander De Long, the sculptor Leonard Craske, of Boston, as described in the article, “Commemorating an Arctic Tragedy,” published in “Granite Marble and Bronze,” May 1929, pp. 21., was portrayed, “peering into the limitless waste of the Arctic.  The figure is carved from a huge thirty-one ton block of Bethel White granite, modeled to simulate an icy mass.”

The article went on to say, “Joseph Vanelli and Sons, of South Quincy, were appointed by the sculptor to execute the monument.  A native of Carrara, Italy, Mr. Vanelli is by profession a sculptor-carver and with the aid of his two talented sons. Eugene and Caesar Vanelli, this memorial was executed.”

The magazine page was provided by Peggy Perazzo who shares her vast collection of gravestone catalogs and resources at:

*  “Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StoneQuarriesAndBeyond/

*  Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues” (new web site – continuation of “Stone Quarries and Beyond”)

http://quarriesandbeyondcontinues.com/

The Quarries and Beyond Website and Facebook page were created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. The collection focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section on the Website that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

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Off the Rack, Continued

BENJAMIN HARRISON

AUGUST 20, 1833 – MARCH 13, 1901

LAWYER AND PUBLICIST

COL. 70th REG. IND. VOL. WAR 1861-1865

BREVETTED BRIGADIER GENERAL 1865 U.S. SENATOR 1881-1887

PRESIDENT 1889-1893

STATESMAN, YET FRIEND TO TRUTH OF SOUL, SINCERE IN ACTION, FAITHFUL

  AND IN HONOUR CLEAR

Harrison served admirably as a soldier in the Civil War, as a United States Senator, and as President.  Benjamin Harrison was also a highly successful lawyer, perhaps the most successful attorney to serve in our highest office. Though Harrison did not inherit a fortune from his father, his 18-year law practice was incredibly lucrative, even representing the government of Venezuela.

In spite of his business and political success, his family chose a monument that was “off the rack” so to speak, most likely from one of the many gravestone catalogs available at the time.

Other examples can be found below:

Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

FAMILY

WM A. MOORE

WILLIAM A. MOORE, 1823 – 1906

LAURA J. MOORE, 1837 – 1911

Wm. V. MOORE, 1856 – 1925

JANE A. MOORE, 1859 – 1937

Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

PERRY S. WESTFALL

DEC. 18, 1834

JAN. 17, 1889

NANCY M. WESTFALL

BORN FEB. 23, 1836

DIED JULY 16, 1915

Highland Cemetery, Terre Haute, Indiana

J. T. GLENN

1908

Grove Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville, Kentucky.  The Glenn has a slightly different embellishment on the top of the stone, but everything else is the same.

R. B. GRAVES

APR. 13, 1813

SEPT. 7, 1887

 

JANE HUGHES

WIFE OF

R. B. GRAVES

AUG. 27, 1821

JAN. 1, 1903

Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky

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A Son’s Monumental Tribute to His Father

PIONEER

COL. JOHN HARDIN

BORN OCT. 1, 1755

KILLED MAY 1792

WHILST BEARING HIS

COUNTRY’S FLAG OF PEACE

TO THE INDIANS

N. W. OF THE OHIO

 

SOLDIER

AN OFFICER

IN MORGAN’S RIFLE CORPS

AT THE TAKING OF BURGOYNE.

 

PATRIOT

JANE

WIFE OF

COL. JOHN HARDIN

DIED MAY 31, 1829

THE MOTHER OF

SARAH M. HENRY

MARTIN D. HARDIN

MARK HARDIN

DAVIES HARDIN

MARY ESTILL

LYDIA ANN

&

ROSANNA FIELD

CHRISTIAN

TO THE MEMORY OF

[illegible]  AND EXEMPLARY [illegible]

THIS CENOTAPH

IS GRATEFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY ERECTED

BY THE ONLY SURVIVING SON

MARK HARDIN

1856

 

In 1856, Mark Hardin, the last surviving son of Colonel John Hardin, had erected a soaring monument in memory of his father in the Grove Hill Cemetery in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

An article in The Louisville Daily Courier, Jefferson County, Kentucky, Thursday, November 20, 1856, described the marble tribute made by Edgar Needham, a Louisville, Kentucky, stonecutter, as being 20 feet high and “a Doric pedestal with its capitol surmounted with a blocking course, on which is raised in Alto Relievo, four original and characteristic emblems representing the Pioneer, the Soldier, the Patriot, and the Christian.  Upon the blocking course is a column with a capitol of palm leaves, upon which is perched the glorious American eagle.”

The four-sided column has an “alto relieveo” or sculpture in high relief on each side, each highlighting a different facet of Colonel John Hardin’s noted life—pioneer, solider, patriot, and Christian.  The article described one of the bas-relief sculptures representing the PIONEER by writing, “This is unquestionably one of the finest private monuments ever built in Kentucky, and the representation of the “old Kentucky Rifle” with its old fashioned flint lock has been universally admired by all who have seen the work.”

John Hardin was born October 1, 1755 in Prince William County, Virginia.  Hardin served in the Revolutionary War.  Hardin was well known as an expert marksman.  He was mustered into Captain Zack Morgan’s Company which was fighting marauding and hostile Indians.  Hardin was badly wounded in what was known as Lord Dunmore’s War.  He carried a musket ball in his groin for the rest of his life from those battles.  His service in the Revolutionary War is noted by the word PATRIOT on the monument.

Hardin’s service as an emissary for President George Washington to the Shawnee Indian people garnered him the word SOLDIER to be carved into the monument.  It was his last official act in the service of his country and as President Washington’s friend.  The monument makes mention that he was “KILLED MAY 1792 WHILST BEARING HIS

COUNTRY’S FLAG OF PEACE TO THE INDIANS N. W. OF THE OHIO.”  The monument also states it is a cenotaph meaning his body does not lie beneath the stone but most likely somewhere in Ohio where he was struck down.

His stone also made note of him as a Christian.  He belonged to the Methodist Church of Shelbyville.

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Lotus Column

IN MEMORY OF

EDMUND CHRISTIAN MINOR

FIRST JUDGE

OF THE

LAW AND EQUITY COURT

OF RICHMOND

FEBRUARY 20, 1845

SEPTEMBER 9, 1903

LOVE IS THE FULFILLING

OF THE LAW

 

KATE NOBLE PLEASANTS

WIFE OF

EDMUND CHRISTIAN MINOR

APRIL 8, 1857

DECEMBER 30, 1925

I HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD

SAYING WHOM SHALL I SEND

AND WHO WILL GO FOR US?

THEN SAID I.  HERE AM I: SEND ME.

After the French and British occupations of Egypt, there was a renewed interest in Egyptian architecture and symbolism in America. The evidence of the influence of Egyptian design can be found in nearly every American cemetery, especially large urban cemeteries. The Egyptian symbol that is most commonly found in American cemeteries is the obelisk.  And the most famous obelisk in America is the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. But there are other examples of the influence of the Egyptian Revival in most large urban cemeteries, such as pyramids and large mausoleums that have many features of Egyptian temples–the cavetto cornice that curves into a half circle at the top of the tombs and the heavy columns that are designed to emulate long bundled plants with stylized palm leaves at the top.

The Edmund and Kate Minor lotus column in the sprawling and famed Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, is another example a monument designed in the style of the Egyptian Revival, though, it is a refreshing departure from the ubiquitous obelisk.

According to Egyptian mythology, the lotus flower rises up out of the primordial ooze from which all life was created, opened, and the sun itself arose from the tender pink flower.  The lotus symbolizes creation and rebirth most likely because of its unique ability to bear fruit and flower at the same time.  The lotus also symbolizes the sun because at night the lotus sinks under the water, but rises out of the water in the morning, its flower opening and following the sun during the day, to close again when the sun goes down.

Posted in Symbolism | 2 Comments

Ivy and Oak Leaf

JOSEPH COPE

1843 – 1917

ALICE G. COPE

1853 – 1932

The Cope family gray marble gravestone in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, looks half-finished.  On one side is a column that looks like it is freshly and finely carved from a monolith of stone while the other side is and rough   It is almost as if the stone carver was half way through the job and stopped but as it happens that is not the case.  The technique used on this stone is called rock-face and is meant to be rough and have an unfinished look to it.

Ivy leaves are wrapped around the column on the right hand side of the marker with oak leaves and acorns carved at the base.  Both motifs are very common in American cemeteries.  According to an article, “Monumental Design: The Language of The Flowers,” written by Dan Haslam in the gravestone manufacturing magazine, Design Hints For Memorial Craftsman Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2, August 1927, page 24, both symbols were popular.

“Reasons,” Haslam writes, “for such long popularity are of course gauged according to the ideas and fancies of the individual designer.  Of the numerous varied opinions or reasons which may be advanced regarding the value of the oak and ivy as memorial decorative motifs, two are outstanding; both plant forms are adaptable to many pleasing arrangements in design and are symbolic of two of the best things in life, strength and friendship.”

He goes on to add, “The Oak is representative of Firmness and Strength while the Ivy symbolizes Memory and Friendship.  From this the reader will understand why the oak and ivy are so often arranged in a single memorial design.  The sturdy oak for Father and the clinging ivy for Mother, representing impregnable friendship, devotion and lasting memory.”

The oak and ivy leaf design page was from an industry publication, The Monumental News, and provided by Peggy Perazzo who shares her vast collection of gravestone catalogs and resources at:

*  “Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StoneQuarriesAndBeyond/

*  Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues” (new web site – continuation of “Stone Quarries and Beyond”)

http://quarriesandbeyondcontinues.com/

The Quarries and Beyond Website and Facebook page were created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. The collection focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section on the Website that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

Posted in Symbolism | Leave a comment