The Angel in the Boat Redux

[?] MAY 7TH 1880 — OBIT DECEMBER 1St 1906

A PERFECT AND UPRIGHT MAN

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

BERT HOOF

LATE VALUED AND ESTEEMED OFFICER OF DALGETY & COY

VICE CAPTAIN MERCANTILE R CLUB

ACCIDENTLY [sic] DROWNED IN RIVER YARRA

THIS STONE IS ERECTED

AS TOKEN OF UNDYING AFFECTION

BY HIS AUNT FLORENCE PICKERING

ALSO IN LOVING MEMORY OF

ANN RELICT OF JAMES HOOF OBIT 1891

DARLING GRANDMA

Not far from the main gate of the Melbourne General Cemetery, Melbourne, Australia, on College Crescent, to the right on First Avenue, is a gravestone dedicated to Bert Hoof.  The epitaph does not tell the circumstances of his accidental drowning on the Yarra River, but on this gravestone Bert Hoof is depicted as an angel holding up the mast of the tiny boat.

My friend and super sleuth, Meredith, reads my blog and decided to see if, with a little digging, she could uncover more details about the accidental death of Bert Hoof.  She found the following article in the Saturday December 8, 1906 edition, of The Independent on page 2:

THE RIVER TRAGEDY

The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Albert Edward Hoof, the victim of last Saturday’s boating accident on the river Yarra during the course of the rowing matches were investigated by the district coroner (Dr. Cole), at the Footscray morgue, on Monday, and Melbourne morgue on Tuesday.  In his finding, the coroner … the deceased died from asphyxia by drowning.  He had not been struck on the head or injured in any way.  He had stepped out of the boat, in spite of the fact that Mr. Warburton had told him to sit still, and that there was no danger.  It was evidently a case of where a man had lost his nerve.  The condition of the host appears to have been bad, and the deceased could not swim.  There was a notice in the Mercantile Club’s sheds to the effect that nobody unable to swim should go out in single sculling boats.  That notice might well be extended to apply to other boats.  It was very necessary that all men should learn to swim, and especially those who went on the Yarra.  The incident of the Assistant Harbour Master, speaking to Fawcett (who was diving in the nude), and telling him that ladies were present on the boat, was regrettable.  He was sure no regretted it more than the Assistant Harbour Master himself.  Modesty was a very good thing in its way: but modesty should never interfere with the chance of saving human life.  A word of praise was due to Messrs. Brown and Fawcett, who had risked their lives in the endeavour to save the deceased.  The coroner then recorded the following verdict:–“I find that on 1st December, at the junction of Coode’s Canal and the River Yarra, Albert Edward Hoof was accidently drowned.”

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The Specter of Death

Here lyeth the Body of

THEODORA ASH

who departed this Life

February 17th AD 1770

aged 17 Years

If Innocence of Virtue could Save

A liveing mortall from the Grave

Theodora thou had’n never died.

This elaborately carved 18th Century gray slate gravestone in the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, marks the grave of 17-year old Theodora Ash.  Floral embellishments decorate the shoulders of the gravestone along with a craved design enhancing the top half circle.

The omnipresent specter of the Grim Reaper is evident on this gravestone.  In the medallion of the gravestone’s lunette, Theodora Ash is depicted in an incised carving with her head titled to the left and gently leaning on her hand.  She stares straight ahead with a lifeless expression.

Framing the sculpture of the young girl is a scythe with handle to the left and the implement’s blade circling the base of the medallion portrait as if it was cutting it in half from her unseen body.  At the tip of the scythe is an hourglass, a symbol of the brevity of life and the fragility of the mortal body.

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The Grim Reaper

A large massive monolith was built to commemorate the pioneers who were buried in The Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco.  The Memorial to Commemorate the California Pioneers, is dedicated to those 35,000 pioneer graves that were removed from San Francisco to the Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, California.  Their removal began February 26, 1940.  A large bronze placard states, “As you stand here, open your heart to the pioneers.  They gave you great cities, a fair free land of mountains, a broad sea and the bluest of skies.  Open your heart to them, and trust the best that was in them all, and they will also give you wisdom and humor and above all, courage.  For they are your fathers.”

On the opposite side of the monolith, is a three-quarter sculpture of the grim reaper characterized by a long beard and a scythe.  The scythe is his tool for cutting down and harvesting souls.  In this sculpture the Grim Reaper is depicted as a thin bearded old man with wings.  A winged hour glass rests on his knee.

There are several expressions in the American lexicon that refer to the hourglass and 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 here, represents 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 that life is short and that time is fleeting, every minute of every day brings one closer and closer to death.

Some believe that the origin of the reaper is from the Greek myth of Charon, the ferryman.  Since ancient times, the imagery of the soul crossing a river was created to explain how the soul went from one realm to the other.  This vivid imagery has long been a part of the symbolism of death in iconography and word.

In Greek mythology, the River Styx wrapped its way around Hades (the Underworld) nine times.  To cross from this life to the next, the dead had to pay with a coin to be ferried from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead.  The toll was placed in the mouth of the deceased to pay Charon, the ferryman.  It was said that if the dead person did not have the coin, he was destined to wander the shores of the River Styx for a century.

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Daughters

In Memory of

IDA

Daugh. Of

Geo. D. & A. C. ROLAND

DIED

Feb. 2. 1867

AGED

24 Yrs. 9 Mo’s.

4 D’s.

Daughter it is hard to give you up

But God has called and you must go

To dwell with jesus [sic] in those heavenly mansions

While we are left to weep here below

In the Sandhill Cemetery in the Clay Township of Bartholomew County, Indiana, is a tiny cemetery rightly named because it is sitting atop of a sand hill.  Inside the gates of the cemetery are two tablets for the two daughters of George and A. C. Roland.  Both soft, white-marble gravestones are eroded by years of weather and have lost a great deal of their detail.  Both gravestones have the same image carved into the top third of the marker—a young woman looking over an open book laying on a broad table with a man standing by the desk with one hand on the top of the book.  The man, wearing a long coat, appears to be a teacher, though it could be George Roland, the father of the young women.  The epitaphs on both gravestones are very similar but slightly different.

In Memory of

MALLIE

Daughter of

Geo. D. & A. C. ROLAND

DIED

Oct. 28, 1869

AGED

24 Yr’s. 7 Mo’s.

10 Ds.

Daughter our last can we give you up

Yes God has called and you must go

To dwell with jesus [sic] in those heavenly mansions

By and by we too will ceace [sic] weeping and go

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The Angel in the Boat

[?] MAY 7TH 1880 —  OBIT DECEMBER 1St 1906

A PERFECT AND UPRIGHT MAN

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

BERT HOOF

LATE VALUED AND ESTEEMED OFFICER OF DALGETY & COY

VICE CAPTAIN MERCANTILE R CLUB

ACCIDENTLY [sic] DROWNED IN RIVER YARRA

THIS STONE IS ERECTED

AS TOKEN OF UNDYING AFFECTION

BY HIS AUNT FLORENCE PICKERING

ALSO IN LOVING MEMORY OF

ANN RELICT OF JAMES HOOF OBIT 1891

DARLING GRANDMA

According to the Melbourne General Cemetery website, the sprawling graveyard covers 43 hectares (106 acres), and is one of the most historic and important cemeteries in Australia.  Melbourne General Cemetery was established in 1852 and opened in 1853, the first modern cemetery in Victoria, “designed like a large public park with wide wavy paths, separate religious areas, gate lodges, rotundas, chapels, evergreen trees and shrubs.”

Not far from the main gate on College Crescent, to the right on First Avenue, is a gravestone dedicated to Bert Hoof.  The epitaph does not tell the circumstances of his accidental drowning on the Yarra River, but on this gravestone Bert Hoof is depicted as an angel holding up the mast of the tiny boat.

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Guy Boyd, the Mark and Marker of an Artist

IN GOD’S CARE

GUY MARTIN A’BECKETT

BOYD

12. 6. 1923 — 26. 4. 1988

LOVED HUSBAND OF PHYLLIS

DEVOTED FATHER OF SEVEN CHILDREN

DEDICATED FAMILY MAN

SCULPTOR – POTTER – CONSERVATIONIST

 

IN GOD’S CARE

PHYLLIS EMMA BOYD

6. 3. 1926 — 12. 10. 2001

LOVED WIFE OF GUY

DEVOTED MOTHER

GRANDMOTHER, GREAT GRANDMOTHER

ADVOCATE FOR THE HOUSEWIFE–MOTHER

The Brighton General Cemetery in Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, was designed as a garden cemetery.  Twenty-nine acres of land was set aside in 1853 for the purposes of being a burial ground.  It was designed with broad avenues and bricked alleys that snake through the manicured lawns.  Along the avenues between the curbing and where the grave ledgers shelter the dead is a strip of grass referred to as a lawn.  In the North end of the cemetery along the avenue in that grassy area is a small polished gray granite marker that lies flat with the ground.  The marker has two small plaques and one bronze bas-relief sculpture.

The bas-relief is a sculpture of the pieta featuring the Virgin Mary holding the limp dead body of her son, Jesus Christ. In this sculpture Mary is lifting His body down from the Cross. Many of the pieta sculptures show Jesus lying on Mary’s lap, but this dramatic version depicts the moment Jesus was brought down, His suffering and sacrifice over.  The sculpture is highly-textured.  If it were a painting, one would say that the paint was laid on thick as to make the brush strokes visible in a technique known as impasto.

Works of art, usually sculptures, depicting this subject first began to appear in Germany in the 1300s and are referred to as “vesperbild” in German.  Images of Mary and the dead body of Jesus began to appear in Italy in the 1400s.  The most famous of these sculptures is Michelangelo’s pieta which he sculpted for St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, carved when he was only 24 years old.  Pieta is Italian for “pity.”

The polished granite “grass marker” marks the graves of Guy and Phyllis Boyd.   Guy Boyd was a noted sculptor and potter born into the famous Boyd family of artists and artisans.  His father, William Merric Boyd, was a well-known potter.  His mother, Doris Lucy Eleanor Bloomfield, was a painter.  The artistic dynasty of the Boyd’s began with his grandparents who were also painters along with a host of other relatives who were novelists, architects, sculptors, potters, and painters.  Boyd enrolled and studied sculpture at the East Sydney Technical College in 1945.  The following year he founded a commercial pottery company with commercial success.  During the next twenty years he ran a successful pottery business but was trying his hand at sculpture during that time, as well.  In 1964, after selling his pottery company, Boyd focused full time on his sculptural work becoming noted for his figurative art and his ability to “capture the fluidity and sensuality of the female form.”

After a stint of studying abroad in Europe and Asia, Boyd moved his family to Canada where he gained international fame selling his artwork in galleries of Toronto, Chicago, and New York. However, even with his much touted success overseas, Boyd decided to move his family back to Australia, actually returning to purchase and restore his grandfather’s house on Edward Street, in the beach community of Sandringham, a suburb of Melbourne.  Boyd’s work had been exhibited to much acclaim in Australian cities, such as, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, and major overseas cities of London, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and New York. His work is represented throughout Australia including in the National Gallery of Australia and in the State galleries of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

And a sculpture, titled the “Sandringham Swimmer” stands in the Indigenous Resource Garden, a small park not far from his last home in Sandringham and is a testament to his talent for capturing the sensual form of the female body.

The Boyd family artistic dynasty continues to this day.  The bas-relief panel below the statue of the swimmer was designed by Guy Boyd but carried out by his daughter, Lenore, who is also an accomplished artist.

The Plaque on the base for the statue:

Australia

1788-1988

Commemoration of the

History and Heritage of Sandringham

Sandringham Swimmer – A sculpture by the late Guy Boyd who lived in Sandringham

for many years.

Sculpture Panel – A sculpture relief depicting important elements of the municipality. Concept

Developed by the late Guy Boyd and sculpted by his daughter Lenore Boyd.

Native Gardens – Many of the Australian native plants in the surrounding gardens were used by the

original aboriginal inhabitants for food and medicinal purposes.

An Australian Bicentennial project carried out with

financial assistance from Federal and State Governments

together with the City of Sandringham.

Unveiled by the Mayor of Sandringham, Cr. Michael Hanlin,

on Sunday 30th October, 1988.

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The Flight of the Soul with an Angel

ERNESTINE

WIFE OF HENRY O’HARA

DIED 14TH OCTR. 1883;

AGED 26 YEARS

LAWRENCE

O’HARA

BORN 7TH OCTR.;

DIED 8TH OCTR. 1883.

 

ISABELLA

WIFE OF

HENRY O’HARA

DIED JUNE 26TH 1887

AGED 31 YEARS.

“I AM THE RESURRECTION-

AND THE LIFE”

On top of a towering dark and white marble gravestone in the Brighton General Cemetery, in Brighton, Australia, a suburb of Melbourne, is a winged angel with her arm raised and her finger pointing toward the Heavens.

Without a closer look, one might miss that the angel holds a chubby little babe cuddled up in her other arm.  The angel here is depicted carrying the baby boy which represents the flight of infant boy’s soul to Heaven.

On the side of the gravestone the inscription tells the passerby that one-day old Lawrence O’Hara died on October 8th, 1883.  Six days later, his mother, Ernestine O’Hara, died at the young age of 26 years old.    The sad and poignant story—one that was all too common in the 1800s—speaks to the danger of becoming a mother.  Women risked their lives in childbirth and some, as evidenced by this gravestone, didn’t live through the danger.

Four years later, Henry O’Hara lost his second wife, Isabella.  Isabella was only 31 years old, but the gravestone does not give any clues as to what might have been the cause of her death.

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