Living in downtown NYC, and Long Island NYS

Monday, June 1, 2009

ROMAN URN, 1st Century AD

Enlarge photos for detail!

Looking down upon the Grace Church from an 11th floor window on the West side of my building in the East Village.   Note how the church itself is sandwiched within its own administrative block of offices, yet affords a splendid view on the sidewalk of Broadway. 

The imposing clay urn above, at least 7' high and round, dominates the quiet, shady private garden of the Grace Episcopal church, located on the corner of Broadway and 10th Street.    No one knows why the Rector (for 26 years) William Reed Huntington (1838-1901), brought it to the garden 100 years ago, when it was excavated from a Roman dig while he was visiting at time.   

The Grace Church is a National, State and New York City landmark.   It has been, and continues to improve its community activities, expand its school, and repair its failing Gothic revival architecture.  Right now it is fundraising for the restoration of the Chantry, which is already proceeding.

The urn is falling apart, though held strongly together in its iron framework.  As will be noted, the crack is in the shape of an expressionist symbolic cruciform.  Whatever William Huntington had in mind for its addition to the church garden, other than that perhaps he liked it, ironically this ancient Roman urn survives, sporting a mysteriously acquired religious symbol;  and  a Tour of the Grace Church Website does not comment upon, nor does anyone acknowledge the Roman urn as an object of interest in other literature.  

I discovered that Huntington once wrote, in part, in a prayer for Holy Week:   'Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace, through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.'  



  1. I don't think cities look their best from above. I know I thought that when I went up the Empire State Building. But the ground-level shots, of the urn and wrought-iron fence are very atmospheric.

  2. Ah, you are exploring a part of the city where I have been but don't wander through that often.
    Yes, 19th century worthies had a penchant for picking up foreign loot.



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JANUS - looking backwards and forwards is a Janus trait - for me a way to record the "in between thought", whether in retrospect, or as a notion for the future. I make original prints, currently etchings. I sometimes write and take photographs. I am inspired by what I see and read. Although postings are chronologically recorded by date and time in this protocol, the images exhibited, often seen in different stages of production, are from another time. So, with each new posting, earlier postings can undergo revision or amplification as will be noted, or requested. The addition of a SNAPSHOTS Blog and a VIRGINIA WOOLF Blog are included because my different interests tend to influence what I do as an artist. There will be a Family Blog, too, for the same reason.