Eustis Estate

Shadow Box with Mourning Scene

Likely England, 1825-35; Watercolor, silk, felt, hair, paint, paper, ink; Gift of Constance McCann Betts, Helena Woolworth Guest, and Fraiser W. McCann, 1942.2686.

Piatt Andrew once asked his neighbor Caroline Sinkler, “Is Harry [Sleeper] as ribald and shocking as ever?” As this mourning picture confirms, Sleeper’s sense of humor occasionally bordered on the bawdy. Hung in his private writing nook, the scene includes two men apparently locked in a passionate embrace. Homoeroticism was hardly the artist’s original intent, but under Sleeper’s eye, the work — like every other artifact in the house — was cast anew.