ArtLex Art Dictionary




memorial - A monument to the memory of someone or something, which is sometimes an event or a group effort. Monuments can range widely in size, from the smallest and most intimate and personal to the famously elaborate and monumental.

One type of memorial is the descanso, a Spanish tradition dating back at least to the Conquistadors, who marked the location of deaths in the Americas with crosses or descansos, a Spanish word for "rest." Descansos served both as remembrances of the departed and as a place of rest for weary travelers. As modes of transportation changed, the reason for marking the location of death also changed. The automobile has had a dramatic impact on the role of the descansos, which now mark roadside locations where people died unattended by family members and without having received the church's last rites. Roadside memorials have become a common site along major highways and city streets since the late 1980s, and their increased numbers and types have created a need by states’ departments of transportation to implement policies for dealing with the shrines.




see thumbnail to leftGreece, Grave stele of a little girl with doves, c. 450-440 BCE, Parian marble relief, height 31 1/2 inches (80 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See stele.






see thumbnail to rightEnglish (Barlow, Derbyshire), Memorial to Robert and Margaret Barley, 1467, incised brass plaque attached to an interior wall of a church, represented by a rubbing (frottage). Robert Barley is wearing the Yorkist collar of suns and roses is shown, attesting the deceased's connections with the Yorkist royal line. See costume.



Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, 1848-1907), The Adams Memorial, 1890-1891, bronze (entire and a detail), Washington D.C., Rock Creek Cemetery. Also, a clay sketch (Dartmouth College Library).



Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial, 1897-1900, patinated plaster, National Gallery, Washington, DC. The subject of this sculpture is also that of the movie Glory [link to a still from the movie] (Edward Zwick, 1989).





see thumbnail to leftDaniel Chester French (American, 1850-1931), The Angel of Death and the Sculptor from the Milmore Memorial, 1889-1893 (this version, 1926), marble, 93 1/2 x 100 1/2 x 32 1/2 inches (237.5 x 255.3 x 82.6 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. The Milmore Memorial was commissioned by the family of the Boston sculptor Martin Milmore (1844-1883) to honor his memory and that of his brother, Joseph (1841-1886).




see thumbnail to rightHenry Bacon (American, 1866-1924), architect, Lincoln Memorial, 1914-22, Washington, DC. At the center of this structure is the see thumbnail to leftsculpture by Daniel Chester French, Abraham Lincoln, 1920, marble, height 19 feet. From Mr. Lincoln's vantage, a visitor to the Memorial has an impressive view down the length of the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument.





see thumbnail to rightMaya Lin (American, 1959-), Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, D.C.,1982, a powerfully evocative minimalist monument, a V-shaped wall of polished black granite on which have been carved the names of Americans who died. The height of the wall is 10.1 feet at its center. The entire length of the wall is 493.5 feet; each half is 246.75 feet long. The wall contains 58,175 names (as of October 1990). The names (and other words) on the wall are 0.53 inches high and 0.015 inches deep. See chevron.


Also see architecture, cairn, death, posterity, posthumous, public art, and Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.



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