Beyond Grief: Art, Mourning, and Mystery in the Gilded Age


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art Museum


This interdisciplinary study examines figurative sculpture erected in US cemeteries at the end of the nineteenth century and how it functioned. It situates this new breed of high-style bronze sculpture in the context of sociocultural developments, such as the professionalization of deathways industries, changing landscape aesthetics, and attitudes about mourning, religious faith, management of emotions, and identity formation. It asks what options bereaved patrons had and what values and goals they shared with the cosmopolitan, foreign-trained sculptors commissioned to make their memorials. Finally, this project also looks at the way diverse audiences encountered these aestheticized monuments over the passing decades, when they sometimes responded with ridicule and doubt.