Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Details, Details

I've paused to look at this marble gravestone many times over the past couple of years, but I've never really stopped for a close look.  And this richly detailed stone is worth a closer look.

The stone marks the grave of one David Fonda who died in 1805 and was first buried in the Dutch Reformed section of the old State Street Burying Grounds.  Since he was buried in a private plot and not the Church Grounds, he may have been privately transferred by family from the Burying Grounds before the City's inventory mass transfer of remains in 1868. A biography of David can be found here.

The stone itself is full of fantastic details.  By the early 1800s, the winged skull soul effigies had given way to cherub heads as a popular motif for gravestones and these cherubs were quickly giving way to classical urns and weeping willows.  This wonderful stone includes both - a smiling, tilted cherubic face framed by wings above a richly decorated urn.  But the busy details don't end there.  Two smaller cherubs rest agains the top of the oval tablet, flowers and foliage flank the larger round-cheeked cherub, and swags of carved fabric drape from the urn to the finials of the stone.

The inscription is somewhat worn, but largely still legible:

In Memory of David Fonda
who departed this life 
August 3rd A.D. 1805
aged 48 years, 6 months, 
and 22 days.

This stone is located on the North Ridge in a section filled with older stones, most of which were brought from other burial grounds after the Rural Cemetery opened in 1844.

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