A Work of Art Repaired: The Fagnani Monument

July 1, 2020

If you visit Greenbriar Path this summer, you can now enjoy one of our latest preservation successes: the beautiful floral-shaped monument to Beatrice Fagnani (1855-1857) has been repaired after breaking in half two years ago. Carved in 1857 by Italian artist Patrizio Piatti (c. 1824-1888), the marble pedestal with a sculpted morning glory flower in bloom has been a favorite of visitors and staff alike for many years, and is part of Mount Auburn’s Significant Monument Collection. A tender example of Victorian iconography, the morning glory design symbolized death and rebirth at the time (as the flower closes in the evening and blooms in the morning).

With such a delicate design, this fragile monument has been especially susceptible to damage after so many years of exposure to the New England climate. It had already been repaired several times in the past, and then in 2018, the flower sculpture broke completely in half. Luckily, a staff member found the broken piece intact on the ground, and it went to our preservation shop for safekeeping until the Friends of Mount Auburn raised the funds necessary to repair it.

Josh Craine of Daedalus Sculpture Conservators works on the Beatrice Fagnani monument.

Thanks to a generous donor, in spring 2020 we were able to hire the skilled team at Daedalus Sculpture Conservators, who had already done several important conservation projects at Mount Auburn including the nearby Binney and Magoun monuments (also part of our Significant Monument Collection). To start, they washed the monument carefully with a non-ionic detergent to remove built up soiling, and then treated it to remove biological growth. The top of the flower was then re-secured to the stem with a conservation adhesive, and cracks were filled with a mixture of repair mortar and marble dust to match the color and texture of the stone. For better protection in the years to come, conservators also treated the entire monument with a material that strengthens the stone’s surface and slows erosion. Additionally, they added a screen inside the “bowl” of the flower to prevent leaves and debris from clogging a small tube that allows water to drain out.

The repairs were finally complete in June 2020, and we are thrilled to have this beautiful sculpture back intact in our landscape. Get directions here to see it for yourself on your next visit!

Learn more about our Significant Monument Collection

About the Author: Anna Moir

Grants & Communications Manager View all posts by Anna Moir →

3 Comments

  1. Don Rickter says:

    MAC Friends,
    I would like to know about Beatrice Fagnani and her family. Apparently she died in 1855 and her
    two siblings were born in 1854 and 1856. Their father was a famous portrait painter, Guiseppe, in New York.

    Sadly, my dear wife of 60 years passed away in late October and is interred at MAC, at an incredibly beautiful site.

  2. Carolyn Bishop says:

    Is there a record of the engraving on the body of the monument? it has eroded so badly that it is currently illegible but i remember there was a project to copy such text. By any chance, was this copied? Does anyone know the text? It is an exquisite monument but so poignant for the little child.. Thanks in advance.

    • Jennifer Johnston says:

      Hi Carolyn!

      The inscription is actually a Victorian–era poem called “The Morning Glory” written by another Mount Auburn resident, Maria White Lowell, the wife of writer and diplomat James Russell Lowell.

      You can read more about the monument here:

      https://joom.ag/ArcL/p6

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