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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

e) A Disneyland of death: history and spectacle at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Glendale, California


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1Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, California, just north of downtown Los Angeles, is alternately venerated as the final resting place of such international stars as Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Walt Disney, experienced as a tranquil oasis of greenery and trees on a hillside overlooking the San Fernando Valley, and lampooned as an example of kitsch gone awry, as in Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel The Loved One (1948; film adaptation 1965). Whatever one’s own position, there is no denying Forest Lawn’s importance as a marker in the Los Angeles landscape and as a pioneer in the funerary industry, including in advance sales and historically themed cemeteries. This panel examines this latter aspect of Forest Lawn’s significance: its attitude toward history. Established in 1906 but built primarily in the 1920s, Forest Lawn vaunts neo-medieval architecture drawn chiefly from Italian and British models and reproductions of canonical works of Italian Renaissance art, including a full-scale marble copy of every major sculpture by Michelangelo. The papers in this panel examine Forest Lawn’s use of history as a lens in examining such varied topics as funerary medievalism in Europe and America, female entrepreneurship in Fascist Italy, and the transatlantic afterlife of Michelangelo’s David.


2Waugh, The Loved


3The Loved

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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