The Sphinx, sculpted by Martin Milmore and gifted to the Cemetery by Dr. Jacob Bigelow, was built as a Civil War Memorial in 1872.
Jacob Bigelow, founder and second president of the Cemetery, commissioned the Sphinx as a memorial for the Union dead, celebrating the end of slavery following the Civil War. The image was chosen because of its “personification of intellect and physical force,” and its pairing of beauty and strength, considered the perfect emblem of a new America.
The base was carved from a single block of Hallowell Maine granite by sculptor Martin Milmore, and reads (in English and Latin): “American Union Preserved/ African Slavery Destroyed/ By the Uprising of a Great People/ By the Blood of Fallen Heroes.” Bigelow published a booklet describing his gift to the Cemetery, and wrote of his iconic choice: “The same ideal form which has looked backward on unmeasured antiquity now looks forward to unlimited progress.”
The Sphinx can be found facing Bigelow Chapel, another of Bigelow’s designs for the Cemetery, between Cypress and Chapel avenues.