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Monument to Rev. Hobart

Bishop Hobart's Monument
Trinity Church, N.Y.
Silver gelatine print from The American Architect and Building News, April 25, 1896
Image courtesy of Frederick R. Brown III


    This monumental marble alto (high)-relief in life size of Bishop Henry Hobart (1775-1830) was executed for the second Trinity Church building in New York in 1831.  Ball Hughes was about 27 years old at the time and had been in New York for about two years.  Bishop Hobart was buried beneath the chancel behind the monument.

    The second Trinity Church building was torn down after being weakened by heavy snows in the winter of 1838-39. According to the Trinity Church website, when the third and current Church was built in 1846, Bishop Hobart's Monument was moved to the room currently known as the Verger's office. Alexander Hamilton, among other famous Americans, is buried in the Trinity Churchyard. 

    The original silver gelatine prints had a very small circulation and the original prints only appeared in a very limited number of issues that were distributed to a few prominent architects.  The print is approximately 12 by 16.25 inches, with border. See Image that includes the text above the top of print.  Note that you can click on the image and expand it for more detail. 

    Eliza Ball Hughes recorded the following account of the Hobart monument by her husband in the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes, pp. 12-13: 

"After the death of Bishop Hobart the Warden’s and members of Trinity church decided to get up a marble _ monument 2 his memory. They called on Mr. Hughes to make them a design _ and send them an estimate of its cost. They desired an Alto relief – and he made them a beautiful one representing the good Bishop dying in the arms of Faith. The committee highly approved of it, and begged he would begin at once. The price of the work in finest Italian marble was to be $2500, but when it was finished, they kindly sent by their Rector the Revd. Dr. Berrian a check for another $1000 This showing their appreciation of the beautiful work, was most gratifying to himself and family . and put him once more in harmony with the outer world: when we are happy the air seems to breathe fragrance around us. They Light and joy within reflect themselves upon all without."

    Craven records in Sculpture in America by Wayne Craven. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1968 & 1984 p.72:

"A notice in the New York Evening Post, November 4, 1831, stated that the model was complete and that the marble block for it had been received. Hughes represented Hobart at the moment of his death, slumping in an antique chair, with "limbs loosely wrapped in a sort of drapery so disposed around them as to give a fine classical air to his person." An allegorical female figure representing Religion stands behind the chair; with one hand she supports the bishop's drooping head while with the other she points to the sign of the cross. When completed it was placed under the great window of Trinity Church." 

    For a critical review see Remarks on the Monument to Bishop Hobart, Sculptured by Ball Hughes in A History of the Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York, Part 10?, edited by Morgan Dix, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1906, Appendix I, pp. 485-488, available through Google Books.

    I prefer the remarks published shortly after the monument was executed in The Posthumous Works of the Late Right Reverend John Henry Hobart, D.D. by Rev. William Berrian, D. D., Vol I., New York: Swords, Stanford, and Co., 1833, p. 413, available through Google Books: 

"Designed and executed by Mr. Ball Hughes, a young sculptor of genius and talent, who, in this work, as well as others, has already given the earnest of great eminence in his profession." 

    According to A History of the Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York, pp. 299-300, Ball Hughes also designed a marble altar for the second Trinity Church building in NYC that was torn down in 1839.  Trinity gave the altar to the parish of Calvary in uptown Manhattan.

The Monument Today:

    Matt Brown took the following pictures of the monument in June 2012 to highlight the relief and to show the location of the monument in the Verger's Office, off of the Sanctuary.

    Note the digital clock above the doorway to the Sanctuary in the picture below, services must start on time! Otherwise, the pictures show the room as it's probably looked since the third church was built in 1846. Click on the images to magnify with your browser. Images by Matt Brown, BrownBuffalo.com.

Trinity Church Sanctuary

Please Help

Do you know where the altar from the second Trinity Church building is today?


last update 6/15/2012

For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2012

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