Mourning Ring for William Burnside

  • Unidentified, Mourning Ring for William Burnside, 1788, watercolor on ivory, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer, 1999.27.56

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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.

Mourning Ring for William Burnside
On View
Not on view.
image (irregular, almond shape): 1 1/8 x 1/2 in. (2.8 x 1.4 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer

Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Primitive – mourning
  • State of being – emotion – sorrow
  • Figure female – full length
  • Landscape – tree – willow tree
  • Monument – tomb
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI