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Mourning Ring for William Burnside

1788 Unidentified watercolor on ivory image (irregular, almond shape): 1 1/8 x 1/2 in. (2.8 x 1.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer 1999.27.56 Not currently on view

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Miniature paintings memorializing a friend or family member grew popular in the nineteenth century when the death of Prince Albert sent Queen Victoria into deep mourning. A name and death date on a locket, pin, or ring marked the passing of a loved one, and artists sometimes mixed a lock of the deceased person’s hair in with the pigment. The paintings often showed the bereaved person next to a tomb or cinerary urn, as in Mourning Locket for A. R. and Mourning Ring for William Burnside, and sometimes included symbols of grieving such as a dove or weeping willow.


Figure female - full length

Landscape - tree - willow tree

Monument - tomb

Primitive - mourning

State of being - emotion - sorrow

painting - miniature

paint - watercolor