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Mourning Pin

1790s Unidentified watercolor, mother of pearl, and metal on ivory image (oval): 2 11/16 x 2 1/4 in. (6.8 x 5.7 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer 1999.27.79 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

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, and sometimes included symbols of grieving such as a dove or weeping willow.


Figure female - full length


Monument - tomb

Primitive - mourning

Primitive - mourning

Religion - angel

State of being - emotion - sorrow

painting - miniature

animal parts - shell - mother of pearl

paint - watercolor