Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spotlight on Joseph Nash

Some of the most distinctive gravestones in Western Massachusetts were created by Joseph Nash. Nash was active from the 1720s until the 1740s, carving stones for the dead of Northampton, Hadley, Hatfield, Springfield, and other communities in that section of the Connecticut River Valley.

Chileab [Caleb?] Smith
d. 1733
Hannah Smith
d. 1731
Hadley, MA

Nash often carved in red sandstone, but many of his stones are in relatively good condition. Though he seems not to have been trained in letter-cutting, I have argued before that Nash was probably familiar with Boston-area stones from the last two decades of the 17th century.

One thing that Nash did not learn from the Boston carvers was the use graduated tiers as decoration. While very few of Nash's stones bear any icons (the Mary Nash stone is an exception) many are embellished with raised or depressed sections of stones. At a time when gravestones in the rest of New England were generally carved in a single plane (though with deep, plastic carvings), Nash's stepped stones are unusual.

I don't know much about Nash or his influences. Has anyone ever seen stones with raised sections like these from before 1720?


Timothy Eastman
d. 1733
Hadley, MA


Timothy Eastman
d. 1733
Hadley, MA


Rebeckah Smith
d. 1731
Hadley, MA


Ilizebeth Smith
d. 1727/8
Hadley, MA


John Smith
d. 1723 
Hadley, MA

2 comments:

RJO said...

Fascinating stones. I know nothing about the carver. The style almost made me think of masonry -- I wonder if the carver was primarily a carpenter or bricklayer.

mattiebergeron said...

may the blessing be always with you!!..................................................