Monday, April 20, 2015

Smith Weed

This photo was taken with a film camera on an overcast day some years ago.  At the time, I was looking for a nearby grave and only took a picture of this one because it happened to be there.

The gravestone marks the grave of Smith Weed, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and father-in-law of poet Alfred Billings Street. Weed died on July 11, 1839 at the age of 85.  He was originally interred in the State Street Burying Grounds and removed to Alfred B. Street's family lot around 1869.

The sharply-angled tympanum of the marble headstone seems to imitate the outline of an obelisk-style monument and much of the space is filled with a large draped urn with a flame issuing from its opening.  A popular image on headstones from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, flaming urns can represent both immortality or eternal friendship.  With the veil or shroud draped around it, an urn often represents the death of an older individual.   Such urns are also a nod to the funerary urns of Ancient Rome.

1 comment:

  1. The angled typanum and flaming urn can also be found on the much larger headstones of Charles Selden and wife in the Lansingburgh Village Burying Ground. But for the presence of a flame, I'd say the angled background of the Selden stones is somewhat suggestive of drapes.