Sweet Auburn: The Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn The Art of Memory: Monuments Through Time - Page 3

the Art of Memory Photo, ©Alan L. Ward, circa 1980’s Mount Auburn’s Monuments Through Time by Meg L. Winslow, Curator of Historical Collections and Melissa Banta, Consulting Curator, Historical Collections “T Blueprint, Shaw & Hunnewell Architects, 1889 he poet and the sculptor have here combined their skill with nature, till this has become one of the most lovely spots in the vicinity of Boston,” an observer of Mount Auburn Cemetery wrote in 1849 1 . For nearly two centuries, Mount Auburn has commemorated the lives of more than 97,000 individuals with burial markers and memorials. Today, amid the contemplative beauty of its landscape and horticulture, visitors to the Cemetery find an infinitely rich tapestry of memorials expressing devotion, affection, and loss– a visual language of the deeply human act of remembering. Mount Auburn’s landscape includes funerary monuments representing almost 200 years of architectural style and signifi- cance, from works of fine art to vernacular carvings. Within the context of the natural landscape, these commemorate objects, with their striking forms and geometry, create a compelling visual experience, a balance of art and nature as envisioned by the Cemetery founders. Mount Auburn was one of the first locations in Boston to exhibit sculpture in the 19th century, and the Cemetery played a major role in developing the careers of artists who produced these works. “Until 1840, sculpture had attracted very little attention in Boston,” scholar Frederic A. Sharf writes. “Within the next decade sculpture usurped the artist limelight of that city. One major factor in the city’s life lay at the root of this artistic transformation – the establishment of Mount Auburn Cemetery.” 2 Local guidebooks to Mount Auburn highlighted routes leading visitors to the Cemetery’s more popular memorials. As Mount Auburn, and other cemeteries modeled after it, transformed into gardens of sculpture, they generated a new demand for funerary art in America. Among Mount Auburn’s hills and valleys, ponds and plantings, are more than 60,000 memorials — a sweeping range of styles from Egyptian to Classical Greek and Roman, from simple markers to lavish Baroque display—reflecting the eclectic breadth of American funerary design over the past century and a half. Fall 2013 | 1