Chicago cemetery sculpture


My visits to Chicago cemeteries were largely to find and record the gravestones of distant and not-so-distant relatives, all of whom had pretty unexceptional stones. But I noticed a few that I thought worth taking the time to shoot. And of course, the most striking sculptures would have to be the ones marking the graves of children…

This one (left) was for a whole section of the cemetery labelled “Lullabyland,” where mostly young children were buried. I don’t know who created it or why a child staring down a lamb was thought to be appropriate, but I do like the look of determination on the girl’s face.

This one (right), which seemed to cry out to be rendered in black and white, marked the grave of a girl named Lauretta who died at the age of seven in 1898.

The cemetery where we had no relatives at all and as a result had only 15 minutes for a quick drive-through was Graceland Cemetery where anybody who was anybody in Chicago history is buried. I’d like to take a tour of the place the next time I’m in Chicago, to see the graves of the notables and some of the fantastic sculpture there. The only figure I had time to snap (and from inside the car at that) was “Eternal Silence” by Lorado Taft which watches over the grave of Dexter Graves (yes, that’s his name), one of the city’s first settlers.

This figure is also known as the “Statue of Death,” and originally was entirely black, except for the face, hidden in the hood of the robe.
Legend has it that if you look into the face you will glimpse your own death. But legend also has it that the figure is impossible to photograph, and that cameras won’t function in its presence. It certainly is eerie, but obviously, photographable.

Note to Pamela Williams: Your cemetery sculpture gig is secure!

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