Mourning Pictures, c. 1790s and 1800s

These two mourning pictures use a variety of mediums including watercolors and embroidery on silk. “Most of these were created to serve as a record and a decoration rather than to express the heartache the creator was expressing.” A description as well as the transcription of the words on the embroideries is included for each piece. Mourning pictures became popular after Gearge Washington’s death. The weeping willows echo the carving on the gravestones mentioned here.

The first image is a mourning picture of Jacob Oliver. The latter is a mourning picture of Lucy Waters.

Information from Beverly Historical Society (now Historic Beverly), January 2009:

“Captain Jacob Oliver was born ca. 1757, the son of Jacob & Abigail (Glover) Oliver. He married Anna Thorndike (1762-1809), the daughter of Andrew & Anna (Morgan) Thorndike, and the sister of Israel Thorndike. He died at sea, on August 17, 1793 aged 36. Anna is seen kneeling by the grave. This mourning print is comprised of four different mediums of art: reverse painting on glass, block printing, watercolors, and needlework.

‘By foreign hands thy dying eyes clos’d
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos’d
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn’d
By strangers honour’d and by strangers mourn’d’

Lucy Waters was born in Beverly on 15 February 1778, the daughter of Benjamin and Lucy Waters. She never married and passed away on 26 May 1804 due to decline. A combination of stitches and stippling, the technique of using small dots to simulate varying degrees of solidity or shading, create this somber and moving mourning print.

‘Heaven calls me! and I dare to go
Farewell my Friends! The remnant
Of my Years, I leave to you if you,
Can bear to toil through all the race.’ ”


Historic Beverly, Beverly, MA.