English: Artist Unknown
Georgian Era, Sepia-Toned Mourning Miniature
Depicting a Young Lady Standing at the Gravesite
of a Friend or Loved One with the Initials of 'M. B.'
3/4 x 1 3/8 inches (sight)
watercolor (and possibly chopped hair) on ivory; housed in a navette-shaped gold brooch
This fine example of late eighteenth century mourning art is rich in symbolism. Depicted is a young lady, wearing a hat and cloak and holding a book (likely a book of prayer), standing at the gravesite of a friend or loved one. Engraved on a pedestal are the decedent's initials ('M. B.') and date of death (28 July 1773). Atop the pedestal sits an urn (a popular symbol of mourning, dating back to Greek times). The urn is draped (typically denoting the death of an older person; and an eternal flame emanates from the top of the urn (the flame being a symbol of undying love or affection). In the background appear both weeping willows (symbolic of tears and sadness) and cypress trees (symbolic of hope, pointing toward heaven).