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Fifth Part.




184. The execution of funeral monuments, either in stone, marble, or in stone mixed with ornaments of marble, is one of the branches of this art which affords most employment to Marble workers. By visiting the various cemeteries, an idea can be formed of the diversity of the tastes, and of the intellectual or pecuniary abilities of those who erect them. One likes to fancy on seeing the expression of sorrow happily rendered, that these mourning monuments betoken less of the pride than of the sorrow of the survivors. The artists are strangers to the inscriptions which they engrave upon the marbles. These being dictated by relatives and friends, they do not incur the responsibility of them; notwithstanding they have the right to give their opinion, and it would be rendering an important service to families to counsel them to make those as simple as possible. What we say respecting inscriptions will also apply to the monuments themselves. When they are large and costly, they are often under the direction of an architect, and in this case, the Marble worker has only to follow the design that is given him.

When the family address themselves exclusively to the Marble worker, he makes his estimate, and when it is accepted, contracts with the mason to determine the part of each in the stipulated price, or to fix the price of the mason, who stands in the same relation to the Marble worker, as he, in the preceding hypothesis, stood in respect to the architect.

As to the various forms of funeral monuments, although their general forms are similar, there are many shades of distinction which should be observed, in respect to good taste and social propriety; thus, the tomb of a woman or a young girl should not resemble that of a scholar, a warrior, a great artist, an orator, or a man of letters. There should always be some distinguishing point, though the form may be the same.

Let us take, for example, a simple form; this may be applicable to the whole world if no inscription is placed upon it. The grief which has erected it will admit no one in its confidence. The tomb will neither attract admiration or criticism from any.

But if there is an inscription, an exterior ornament should harmonize the idea it expresses; sometimes, a lily cut off near its bloom will mutely tell of a young girl; sometimes, a wreath of falling roses will speak of a young female; sometimes, a crown of laurel will remind us of the modest and lamented warrior; sometimes, the page of a book, the image of a lyre, indicate an author, a musician, etc.

When the monument is a large one, the ornaments are of a higher order; these demand the hand of the sculptor, and should consist of emblems suited to recall the memory of the life of the dead.

There are some tombs which only suit the pride of a rich heir. They have a sort of coquetry, which would be ridiculous on the tomb of an old man or a warrior.

Others, on the contrary, by their magisterial gravity, by sculpture, or the execution of palms, a crown, a broken sword, or some other ornament, are suited to the station in society which the man filled during his life.

We shall limit our remarks respecting the construction of costly monuments, as the direction of these works does not properly belong to Marble workers but to architects. All monuments, whether small or great, are generally modified copies of some few especial styles, and these modifications may be infinitely reproduced and varied. Besides which, the beauty of the Marbles creates more real difference than the diversity of form.

As to the price which these monuments should command, this depends entirely upon the name of the artist, the materials, and the style of the workmanship, which also includes the ornaments, which often require more time than the work itself.

There are head-stones, tombs, monuments, and family sepulchres, for two hundred dollars; they can also be purchased for twenty thousand; the time necessary for their execution differs widely as the price.

The best method of not deceiving one's self or being deceived is, to demand an estimate, arrange a plan, and make no change in its execution without inserting a supplementary article in the contract.

Besides, the Marble workers are willing to contract at the most reasonable prices. A reasonable profit belongs to them, and the interest of the purchaser, as well as that of the Marble worker, demands that they shall have this; as to do his work well, the artist should have the hope of being compensated for his labor.

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