The Litchfield Female Academy (1792–1833), where this picture was made, was one of the few schools that provided both academic and ornamental educations for young American women. Parents sent their girls to Litchfield expecting them to return home knowing English grammar, arithmetic, history, geography, and religion. But any ladies' academy, no matter how progressive, was still expected to provide instruction in needlework, music, and painting. This painted silk mourning picture is one of eight known from the Litchfield Female Academy. All are almost identical in size, composition, images, and coloring. The painted faces in all eight appear to be by one artist, possibly Flora Catlin, an art teacher at the school from 1815 to 1831.
Inscription: [in ink on upper monument] Memory of a Brother / Stephen Miller / timber, April 3d. 1793 AE 25y / To thee this morning sun / shown bright, / But ere evening sat in / endless night; [left obelisk] In Memory of a Mother / Mrs Thankful Miller / Oct. 12th April 1777 aged 38 years / There expectation failed. and / hope fond hope's in disappoint / ment lost; [left tombstone] To the memory / of Gordon Miller / who departed This / Life in 5th year / of his age / Sept. 1776; [right tombstone] To the memory of Hannah Miller / who departed This / life July 1776 / in the 3rd year / of her age; [central obelisk] To the Memory of a Sister / Mrs. Mary Starr / Oct. 20th May. 1811 aged 25 years / The tribute of a Sister / who lov'd thee living, & who mourns / Thee dead;[two tombstones to right] To the Memory / of an Infant / Francis Miller / Born Nov. 1780 / Died Feb. 1781 / To the Memory / of a Babe who / died in infancy / July 8th 1782 / Aged 3 weeks