Figure 1. Dull mausoleum. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

This Dull mausoleum in Harrisburg Cemetery features two exciting grief figures carved in low relief into the fabric of the façade (figure 1). They are symmetrical mirror images of one another, and they hold palms, the standard symbols of a Christian life well lived, over the portal.

Figure 2. Dull mausoleum. Detail: upper body of grief figure relief. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

The figures have pleasant faces and an interesting mesh pattern on their cloaks; the drapery, however, is pretty weak and conventional. I can’t quite figure out if the lowest curve over the faces (on the right in figure 2) is meant to be a lock of hair or a fold of the cloak’s hood. In the end, I think it’s cloaking, because one of the salient characteristics of these figures is their heavy cloaking, symbolic of mystery, I suppose. In fact, the cloaks have been thrown back from the inboard sides of the figures to reveal the arms and the palms they hold. Cloaking-revelation! Get it?!

Figure 3. Dull mausoleum. Detail: palm arch over portal. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

The architect set aside symmetry in the interest of rationalizing the image where the palms cross above the door, which is a Dull touch (figure 3).

Figure 4. Dull mausoleum. Detail: Dull inscription. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

AUGUST 22, 1830
APRIL 9, 1914

MARCH 7, 1837
JANUARY 7, 1920

The Neoclassical relief and font are animated just a little by the spirit of Art Nouveau. Perhaps therefore, we should see this mausoleum as occasioned by Andrew’s death rather than Judith’s; or maybe it was built ‘pre-need’.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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