Majestic and Perennial Bronze


Frank Duveneck (1848–1919)
Tomb Effigy of Elizabeth Boott Duveneck, 1891
Bronze and gold leaf
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1927
Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY

Following the premature death of his wife in March 1888, Duveneck set about memorializing her. The tomb effigy was made by Duveneck in Covington, Kentucky, with the aid of the sculptor Clement Barnhorn and placed in the Allori Cemetery outside Florence, where it remains. Duveneck drew upon an early-fifteenth-century figure by Jacopo della Quercia from the cathedral in Lucca. In 1894, James wrote to Elizabeth’s father: “In Florence, where I spent a few days on my way to Rome, I made an intensely pious pilgrimage to the spot where Lizzie lies in majestic and perennial bronze. Strange, strange it seemed, still to see her only so—but so she will be seen for ages to come.” Duveneck made several life-size versions of the effigy in bronze and marble.


This is the tomb that Frank Duveneck made for his wife, Elizabeth Boott. He finally married her and everybody was deeply shocked at how soon afterwards she died, her death was sudden. James studied the relationship between Duveneck and Elizabeth Boott and her father. He wrote letters about it. It was one of the great sources of gossip between him and his mother and his brother, for example. He was deeply shocked at her death, and Frank Duveneck made various versions of this tomb, one of which is outside Florence, in the place where she's actually buried. And James actually went there and he wrote to her father about how sad it was and also how beautiful he thought the tomb was.