“The Last Voyage”

Among my cemetery research interests is the study of the Monumental Bronze Company and the “white bronze” monuments they produced. The Last Voyage, one of my favorite motifs, was among many that were used to embellish monuments. Modeled by sculptor Archibald McKellar and finished at the company’s art foundry in February 1881, it was first offered in their 1882 catalog.

The Last Voyage, modeled by Archibald McKellar and
offered in the 1882 catalog of the Monumental Bronze Company.
archive.org/Smithsonian Institution

This motif was taken from A Gentle Wafting to Immortal Life, a bas-relief marble sculpture by Felix M. Miller and a later engraving by William Roffe. As described in The Art Journal (1879), Miller portrayed the elder of two deceased brothers, Herbert Mellor, on the angelic mission of guiding his younger brother, Theodore, on his last voyage over the “sea of bliss.” They were the deceased children of J.J. Mellor, Esq., of the Woodlands, Whitfield, Manchester.

The work’s title, incidentally, is from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: “A death, like sleep, A gentle wafting to immortal life.”

The Last Voyage, A Gentle Wafting to Immortal Life,
a lithograph from the 1879 edition of The Art Journal.
Author’s collection.

But back to the Riverview Cemetery and the story.

Charles C. Chase, born on November 27, 1822, earned a living as a maker of boots and shoes. He died on  December 31, 1899, and was interred in Section I, Lot 635, where his grave is marked by a small white bronze monument. And there it is, on the tablet on the back of the monument, The Last Voyage motif.

The white bronze monument for Charles C. Chase.

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