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Fine mezzotint by John Raphael Smith after the famous painting by Joseph Wright of Derby; the print features a melancholic and atmospheric scene depicting the widow of an Indian chief seated beneath a tree, observing the stormy landscape. The sky is filled with dark clouds and lightning, emphasizing the somber mood. The tree, lopped and painted, forms a crude trophy on which the deceased chief's weapons are suspended. This imagery is rooted in a custom where the widow of a distinguished warrior would sit all day under such a trophy for the first moon after his death, remaining exposed to the elements as part of her mourning ritual.

The widow's headband, feathers, quilled cords, knife sheath, and buffalo-robe are depicted with an attention to detail that suggests Wright had access to authentic Native American props, which were available in England by the late 18th century. However, the widow's dress is rendered in standard neo-classical drapery, indicating a lack of authentic Native American attire for this element.

The painting on which the mezzotint is based was produced for Wright's one-man show in the spring of 1785. It reflects the European fascination with Native American culture and the romanticized notion of the "noble savage." The melancholic atmosphere and dramatic natural setting underscore themes of loss, mourning, and the sublime, central to Romantic art.

Wright also created a companion piece entitled 'The Lady in Milton's Comus' (1785), now housed in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Condition Description
Mezzotint on 18th-century paper, mounted on thin card. Mended tear from the top edge into the sky.