- My user image?
If you've looked at the statue in my current user icon you might wonder what the heck it is. And with good reason, because it's a really unusual statue.
I have a sort of love affair with New Orleans - I used to live in western Louisiana, but New Orleans is unique even for that state. And I particularly love the cemeteries there for the collection of statues and ironwork that you really can't find in many places in America.
I'm a repeat visitor to Metaire Cemetery, which I really love visiting to photograph because of the many, many statues and wonderful tomb architecture. (Statues don't tend to move around a lot, and I seem to be great with motion blur in my photos.)
So the statue is part of a group at The Brunswig Pyramid Tomb - buried here is Lucien M. Brunswig, who died in 1892. The tomb is a great example of an Egyptian Revival design - a look that had a huge impact on tomb design for a while in the 1800s through 1900s - the designs kept coming back into fashion with history buffs.
Statue itself - and be sure to check out the eye on the headpiece the woman is wearing. Also, sadly, her right hand has broken off, and on the left hand multiple fingers are broken.
Close up of her face (unhelpful sun took this moment to hide behind a cloud):
Wide shot to see the whole thing - yes, that is a Sphinx statue on the right.
And an even wider view to see the entire pyramid. If you look closely you can see a bird sitting on the top of the pyramid.
Some quotes from books on my cemetery shelf:
New Orleans Architecture: The Cemeteries, by Leonard V. Huber (1974), p. 97-98
"Egypt has long been associated with the timeless pyramids and the grandeur of exotic tombs. Egyptian designs and decorations were known in Europe long before the nineteenth century. ...It was the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt in 1798-1799, however, that gave the public a renewed interest in Egyptology. Although many academically minded architectures looked on the Egyptian Revival style as ugly, heavy, and monotonous, other designers welcomed the Egyptian architectural vocabulary with the same gusto as the classical and Gothic. ...R. G. Hatfeld in an 1844 publication, American House Carpenter, said of the order, "The general appearance of the Egyptian style of architecture is that of solemn grandeur amounting sometimes to sepulchral gloom. For this reason it is appropriate for cemeteries, prisons, and c[sic]; and being adopted for these purposes, it is gradually gaining favor."
...Splendor and romantic nostalgia describe the Brunswig (Lucien M. Brunswig, d. 1892) pyramid in Metairie Cemetery. The structure has an Egyptianized pylon entrance closed by a bronze door. The door opens into a central hall with crypts on either side. A monumental female figure motions sadly toward the family name while a sphinx silently guards the entrance. The urn is ornamented with the lotus plant motif and the cavetto cornice is carved with the winged sun disc that, according to the Egyptians, was a symbol of divine protection. The tomb was supposedly inspired by an original German design, and was built by Weiblen in the early twentieth century."
Not sure if that's Fred, George or John Weiblen - they were a family business.
Metairie Cemetery: An Historic Memoir, by Henri A. Gandolfo (1998), 47-48
"...It has been said that New Orleans has always had some preoccupation with the Egyptian mystique. There is the distinctly Egyptian entrance to the Customhouse on Canal Street, also a fire station in uptown New Orleans, which was definitely Egyptian. There are numerous architectural motifs in houses and buildings throughout the city. By extension this has carried over into the cemeteries. Girod Street Cemetery, of lamented memory, had a veritable forest of obelisks atop tombs. In St. Louis No. 2, the Grailhe tomb, designed by the famous architect, de Pouilly, was purely Egyptian. In Cypress Grove Cemetery with its majestic entrance pylons, there are several small tombs and one large mausoleum embodying the distinctive features of the style. And so, in Metairie is is safe to say that we can find some of the finest examples of that majestic architecture.
...Despite all the foregoing, it is almost beyond argument that the outstanding Egyptian design in all the cemetery is the Brunswig mausoleum. Lucien Brunswig was the head of a local wholesale drug firm. The family originated in Montmedy, France, and he chose the design from a tomb in the Cemetario Monumentale in Milano, Italy. The pyramid holds a commanding position on an elevation of around three feet high on the circle around the Army of Northern Virginia mausoleum. It is a true pyramid, the entrance portal to which is a grilled bronze gate, flanked on one side by a marble sphinx and on the other by a female figure with a libation urn at her side. In metaphysics, pyramids are reputed to give out a mystic aura. It may be that this attracted a bolt of lightning which moved some of the upper stones apart without disturbing the large apex stone. They were restored to their proper place by the operation of a turnbuckle and the damage was completely repaired. There has been no recurrence of the phenomenon.
The avenue on which the Brunswig mausoleum appears has sometimes been called "Millionaire Circle". "
Metaire photoset from 2009 here, if you're interested in looking at more tomb and statue photos:
I always say I'll get my older film photos scanned and uploaded but keep putting that off.