John Zuricher was a gravestone carver of the mid-to-late eighteenth century. He lived with his wife, Elizabeth Ensler, and their ten children in New York City, but produced gravestones that can be found across the Hudson Valley, Long Island, and New Jersey, and even in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. As a stone mason, he worked on New York City Hall and made milestones for the Albany Post Road.
The stone in the photos above and below was created by Zuricher out of red sandstone for James Wright, who died in 1776. The decoration at the top is a round-faced cherub head with a crown of spiraling curls and quite distinctive wings, in which the feathers are laid out in a grid. There is also some sort of decorative flourish at the very top.
Anyone who has read James Deetz’s masterpiece In Small Things Forgotten can tell you that there are three major phases of gravestone iconography in early New England and New York: death’s head, cherub, and urn and willow. The cherub was a direct descendant of the death’s head, and retained some of its features in a vestigial or reinterpreted state. For instance, that little nub of a chin at the bottom of the cherub’s face evolved out of the jaw of the death’s head – shown in this example. Furthermore, this stone represents the “missing link” between the death’s head and the cherub.
It seems that Zuricher dealt exclusively in cherubs, which would make sense for the time period in which he worked (about 1749 to 1778).