Many Victorian cemetery monuments are adorned with a mourning figure. In his book, Saving Graces, published by W. W. Norton & Company, David Robinson photographed mourning figures from some of the most beautiful and famous cemeteries in Europe, including Pere Lachaise in Paris and Monumentale in Milan. The photographs in the book show beautiful, young, and voluptuous women often wearing revealing clothing mourning the dead.
Robinson identified four categories of ”Saving Graces”–first, women completely overcome by grief, often portrayed as having collapsed and fallen limp on the grave. Second are the women who are portrayed reaching up to Heaven as if to try to call their recently lost loved one back to Earth. Third, are the women who are immobile and grief stricken, often holding their head in their hands distraught with loss. Lastly, he describes the last category of “Saving Grace” as the mourning figure who is “resigned with the loss and accepting of death.”
What is different about the Lowry family monument in the Forest Lawn Cemetery at Buffalo, New York, is that the mourning figure is not a representation of a mourning figure, it is the likeness of Mrs. Lowry, the deceased’s wife. According to A Field Guide to Forest Lawn Cemetery, published by the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation, when Joseph Lowry died, “Mary Lowry had her own likeness in her best Victorian evening dress carved in granite and placed beside her husband’s monument.”