Mourning for the Dead, 1849

Not on Viewexpand_more

This nocturnal scene reveals mourners tearing their clothes and cutting their hair in sympathy for a loved one. A couple of knives just catch the glint of fire light. The burial ground is likely Pilot Knob, overlooking the Minnesota River. The site captivated Seth Eastman and he painted it several times, but this scene may be the most emotional. The body of this loved one has been tied to a scaffold, safe from predators, and furnished with provisions. When the ground warms up, it may eventually be buried.

This watercolor, one of 35 works on paper by Eastman in Mia’s collection, was the basis for an illustration in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s massive "Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States" (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1851-57).

Mourning for the Dead
Artist Life
Accession Number
James J. Hill (St. Paul, 1838-1916); his estate; James Jerome Hill Reference Library St. Paul (by 1921-1994; sold October, to MacMillan); W. Duncan MacMillan, Wayzata (1994-d. 2006); the W. Duncan and Nivin MacMillan Foundation (2006-2014; given to MIA)
Catalogue Raisonne
Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians 22
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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