Friday, October 31, 2008

Charles Bardin

One of the most famous gravestones in New England is the stone carved by John Bull for Charles Bardin (1773). I'm always reluctant to call something the "only" example of a motif, but it's the only stone I've ever seen that has a literal depiction of God as the tympanum design. The cherubim on the finials are also particularly lovely — they have that slightly abstract quality that separates quality English painting of the 18th century from the rigid specificity of the American provincial style. Luti says John Stevens I may have been the greatest of the 18th c New England carvers, but John Bull was undoubtedly an artist of considerable merit.



Lori Stokes said...

That is astonishing Caitlin! I have never seen the face of God on a gravestone. Completely unorthodox, and makes you wonder about the religious statement being made.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

I've never seen one anywhere else either. Rhode Island's great for this sort of thing — lots of religious heterodoxy from an early date.

There are some stones in eastern Connecticut that seem to have staring eyes formed by the marks left by a compass beneath a conventional soul effigy. I think Alan Lugwig argues that these are intentionally made to signify the eyes of God, but I think they're ambiguous.