Gone but Not Forgotten

Pamela Gerrish Nunn

Abstract


The Victorians’ propensity for remembering the dead has been poorly understood though much cited. It is seen in contemporary painting, amongst other cultural manifestations. This is exemplified in Emily Osborn’s For the Last Time, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1864. The work’s reception demonstrates the widespread preoccupation with mobilising memory to mitigate the pains of death in the family, an issue complicated by mid-century challenges to received religious beliefs. Some time later, Osborn produced another painting which exploited the same territory, God’s Acre, which was similarly successful. The messages in these works intersect with those seen in middle-brow poetry and fiction, confirming the degree to which one of the most useful applications of memory, in mid-Victorian culture, was to remember the dead at a personal and private level.


Keywords


Death and mourning in Victorian painting; Victorian genre painting; Emily Mary Osborn; For the Last Time; God’s Acre; deathbed scenes; sisters in Victorian art

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