The subject matter here probably comes from an English novel popular in France around 1800. The monument’s inscription indicates that the wife of Fotheringham, an English military leader in India, has recently died. The reclining woman (perhaps sleeping, mourning, or dead) has dropped a portrait miniature of Fotheringham, accompanying a letter to his mother. The narrative has yet to be deciphered, but the husband may have written home, unaware of his wife’s death.
(Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art).