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Sphinx (Cambridge, Massachusetts)


Commissioned and conceptualised by Dr. Jacob Bigelow, the architect of Mount Auburn Cemetery in which it is placed, the Sphinx was made by Martin Milmore in collaboration with his brother, Joseph. Made of Hallowell granite and 15 feet in length, the Sphinx, as in Egyptian mythology, appears as a reclining lion with woman's head, but is here presented with the additional features of a U.S. military medallion and a bald eagle on the headdress, thus representing the future of shared African and American culture envisaged by Bigelow. It commemorates all those who fell in the Civil War, and is noticeable for the unusually emancipatory tone of its inscription, which reads: "American Union Preserved; African Slavery Destroyed; By the Uprising of a Great People; By the Blood of Fallen Heroes'. While no official dedication is recorded, the monument had been placed within the cemetery by September 1871; its enigmatic nature is captured in Charlotte Fiske Bates's 1879 poem 'The Sphinx at Mount Auburn'.

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