Sadie Waters was the daughter of a St. Louis industrialist who was part of Standard Oil. Sadie was a somewhat accomplished artist, whose family’s wealth allowed her to pursue a painting interest. She reminds me of Mary Cassatt’s story, who came from a wealthy background in Philadelphia.
Dying at a young age, she is laid to rest in her family’s plot in Bellefontaine. While there is nothing rare about depicting the deceased (or a more idealized depiction of the deceased) in Western society, it is not the most common practice in America, let alone St. Louis. Interestingly, the painter of her portrait (seen here currently as of November 2015 for sale at an art gallery), Francis Davis Millet, died in the sinking of the Titanic. He is not to be confused with the famous realist painter Jean Francois Millet.