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The Victorians' fascination with death affected many aspects of their lives, including the way they dressed. Mourning behaviour in Britain developed into a complex set of rules in the 19th century, and it was customary for families to wear black mourning clothes as a mark of respect upon the death of a family member or friend. Queen Victoria, the original 'Woman in Black', famously exceeded the traditional period of mourning of up to two years for widows by remaining in black for the rest of her life after the death of Prince Albert in 1861. This exhibition explores some of the styles of female mourning dress worn during the Victorian period, using paintings from the latter half of the 19th century.

6 artworks
Augusta Frances East (d.1903), Lady Hoare
Photo credit: National Trust Images

Augusta Frances East (d.1903), Lady Hoare 1858

Frederic Leighton (1830–1896)

Oil on canvas

H 101.5 x W 71 cm

National Trust, Stourhead

Mrs Hannah Ransom
Photo credit: Southampton City Museums

Mrs Hannah Ransom 1865


Oil on canvas

H 88 x W 69 cm

Southampton City Museums

Woman in Black
Photo credit: The New Art Gallery Walsall

Woman in Black 1873

Jules Émile Saintin (1829–1894)

Oil on canvas

H 86 x W 61 cm

The New Art Gallery Walsall

The Artist's Mother
Photo credit: Manchester Art Gallery

The Artist's Mother 1880–1888

Susan Isabel Dacre (1844–1933)

Oil on canvas

H 91.3 x W 73.7 cm

Manchester Art Gallery

Anna Bilinska (1857–1893)
Photo credit: Victoria Art Gallery

Anna Bilinska (1857–1893) 1884

Emmeline Deane (1858–1944)

Oil on canvas

H 128 x W 90.7 cm

Victoria Art Gallery

Mrs Lowman 1888

Alfred Usher Soord (1868–1915)

Oil on canvas

H 45.7 x W 35.6 cm

York Museums Trust