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Shining A Light on the Mather Homestead Mourning Picture

In the southeast corner bedroom of the Homestead is a mourning picture remembering Deacon

Joseph Mather and his wife Sarah.   The inscription notes their ages and dates of death:  Joseph Mather who died Feb 29th 1840 Aged 86 years 7 months

And of Sarah Mather his wife who died Aug 27th 1843 Aged 85 years 6 months.


In an article about 19th century mourning pictures, Terry Kovel of Kovels Antiques wrote that many of these would include “willows, an urn, a tombstone, black dress, church, flowers, and a weeping relative.” 


The Homestead mourning picture has all of these elements, with the church on the far left, and the addition of a boat on a river, symbolizing the transition to another life.


A closer look at the mourning picture shows that the type face above the dedication (To The Memory Of) is in a formal script, indicating that the personal dedication was added to a widely available template.   And that appears to be the case.


A great variety of standardized memorial scenes were produced by the Hartford, Connecticut lithography firm owned by D.W. Kellogg and Company.   The Library of Congress site shows a

D.W. Kellogg chromolithograph taken from an 1825 painting.   With the exception of the coloring of the dress and fullness of willow, the Mather mourning picture is identical down to the church and the flowers.


It is a treasure for the Homestead to have this mourning picture.  It allows us to grasp the loss

felt by the family as well as to better understand the etiquettes and industries of 19th century America. 

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