Sörjande gestalter i svensk gravskulptur (ca 1830–1930)
Title: Figures of Mourning in Swedish Tomb Sculpture (c. 1830–1930)
“[These] tombs with their statues that show off, embrace each other, collapsing into wailing and weeping.” The French historian Philippe Ariès had wandered around the European 19th century cemeteries and what he discovered were “baroque extra-vagances” in statues with mourning figures. The phenomenon primarily concerned the French, Italian and German cemeteries and in this way they differed from North American, English and Northwest European ones. But what do cemeteries in the Protestant Nordic countries look like? The author of the article has studied Swedish cemetery tomb sculpture, its background and messages. Who sculpted and commissioned them, and how is grief portrayed?
The article addresses the Swedish tomb sculptures expressing grief. Not only flawless female bodies mourn at the tombs but also muscular and perfect male bodies as well. At the tombs, both women and men collapse, writhe, clasp their heads and/or sit with their shoulders lowered and their heads bowed. Their eyes do not meet the visitors: the grief is confined to the figures. The faces that mourn in Swedish cemeteries are averted, neutrally calm, contemplative with downcast or closed eyes. The tomb sculptures reflect the contemporary perception of death. The earlier centuries’ skeletons and praying tomb-holders inside the churches, with their emphasis on a Christian afterlife, were replaced by secular mourning figures. The tomb sculptures were commissioned by bourgeois families, who possessed financial as well as cultural capital.