Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bonaventure Cemetery: Savannah GA, Lawton, Dieter, Mercer, Part III of V

Bonaventure Cemetery with its variety of tombstones and moss covered trees is like walking in an outdoor museum.  I wish sculptures were still widely used in graveyards today, but with the new "rules" in cemeteries this is truly a dying art form.

One particular site I enjoyed was the Lawton family plot.  Corinne was the daughter of General Alexander Robert Lawton and died in 1877 when she was 31.

This sculptor was finished in 1879 by the remarkable Benedetto Civiletti of Palermo, in the island of Sicily.  From a "Harper's New Monthly Magazine"(Volume 63, dated June, 1881 pg. 82-87) article "HERE" is printed "... the young lady died in Italy, and Civiletti, from photographs and the recollection of the bereaved parents, modelled the figure, which they acknowledged to be a very remarkable likeness.  She was engaged to be married, and the artist represents her sitting at the foot of the cross..."

Now, whether she died in Italy, I am not sure.  Here is another version of what happened:  Click "HERE" and cursor down to the third box for the paragraph.  According to this version, she was suffering from a forebidden love and inconsolable, she plunged into the icy waters of Bonaventure's Augustine Creek.

Her father, Brigadier General Alexander Robert Lawton (1818-1896) a graduate of West Point (1839) and Harvard (1842 - law degree), moved to Savannah and practiced law there until 1849.  He then became president of the Augusta and Savannah Railroad, served as Representative to the Georgia House of Reps. and a term as a state senator.  For the Confederate Army he was brigadier general.  After the war he resumed his law practice.  He then became a member of the state legislature, VP of the state constitutional convention in 1877, President of the ABA, U.S. Minister to Austria, and first President of the Savannah Bar Association in 1894.  I guess he earned his rest when he died in 1896!

He died and was originally buried in Clifton Springs, New York.  His daughter, Corrine, was originally buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery.  His wife (and Corrine's mother) had their remains relocated to this spot in Bonaventure Cemetery.  Many people did likewise and had loved ones dug up and brought here to this cemetery.  I guess it was the place to be!

The above arched monument was sculpted by Professor Raffaello Romanelli in Florence, Italy in 1898.  I googled his name and I found a 37" sculpture "HERE" up for bid with the starting bid at $10,000.  Estimated value was $20,000 - $40,000.

Truly amazing that one can walk this cemetery for free and gaze upon these weathered works of art.

I did not place the red flower in her hand, another photographer did.  I was very aware of staying on the paths and not trespassing, but since the flower was there, I snapped a few frames.  I think it is stunning - I also noticed coins had been left in her lap when I was using my macro lens.

The River (or creek) in the background and the gently swaying oak trees are a perfect setting for these works of art.  Don't you agree?

Now this statue is one of my favorites - maybe due to the overall layout of the trees and the foreground cross.   It is Johhny Mercer's (famous lyricist, composer and singer) paternal grandmother's gravesite, Nannie Herndon Mercer.

I respected all the graves and for the most part, stayed on the paths of all of them, except for this one.  I tiptoed carefully as I wanted desperately to see the face of this statue.  I took a couple of photos and tiptoed back onto the path.  I felt guilty as I in no means wish to destroy this beautiful cemetery.

The statue below is very similar to the Mercer statue, but I believe the pedestal is more detailed.  Note the cherub faces that adorn the four corners.   A few that rest here in this family plot are Jacob Dieter (died in 1891) and Catherine (died 1913).  I was unable to find out any history on the internet.  But I must say, this was another particular favorite of mine.

I have two more posts on Bonaventure Cemetery.  Selecting my favorites is really tough as the day was perfectly overcast and not too hot.  That means I took a ton of photographs.  My daughter and I also sketched a bit and I will share those drawings on my "art blog" within a week or so.


texwisgirl said...

some of those statues are truly beautiful. to be honest, some statuary creeps me out. these have very pretty faces and forms.

my favorite shot is that arch, however. such splendor!

(and i'm personally glad they don't use statues in graveyards much anymore - its heartbreaking to see the vandalism that occurs...)

Bluebell Books said...

your taste of art/photography is always stunning..

keep it up.

check out short story slam and make a submission today.

lisa said...

These statues are magnificent Margaret, and you have captured them beautifully.


this place certainly has some great character.
thanx 4 sharing!!

Brian Miller said...

whata completely fascinating that you did ones in b& apropo...grew up by a cemetary and loved exploring there...

Margaret said...

Texwisgirl - Some statues were damaged due to time and weather but I did read that vandalism had happened in the past. WHAT pleasure would someone get by doing that is beyond me!

Bluebell Books - Thank you for letting me know about short story slam. Someday I do hope to find the time to write more. I will keep it in mind and thank you for your nice compliment.

Lisa - You would have loved it and you would have loved the trees!

Ticklebear - It has been a few weeks and I'm still thinking of it and wishing I had had more time to sketch.

Brian - Tour buses go through on "Ghost Tours" but I just wasn't getting a creepy vibe... at least not in the morning.

Ginnie said...

I am a HUGE fan of cemeteries, Margaret, and would love to see this one some day. I don't know what the 'rules' are these days that you mentioneed at the beginning. Are statues like these no longer allowed? You have shown some of the best I've ever seen, and with their added stories, surely one could do worse than spend a lifetime of cemetery hopping!

forgetmenot said...

Margaret, What an interesting day you must have spent at the cemetery. Beautiful photos and and the stories that go with them are so engaging. Great post. Mickie :)

Margaret said...

Ginnie! Savannah's cemetery was amazing and there used to be two plantations on the grounds. One I did not write about and it was truly grand... called Greenwich. Opulence like you wouldn't believe!

Mickie - A day I won't forget. It was as southern a place as I can imagine...