Thursday, October 6, 2011

Victorian Post Mortem Photograhpy

A picture of a young Victorian mother holding her child. But look closely the child seems to be sleeping, no, the child is dead.
Post mortem is the practice of photographing the recently deceased.

The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture much more commonplace, as many of those who were unable to afford the commission of a painted portrait could afford to sit for a photography session. This cheaper and quicker method also provided the middle class with a means for memorializing dead loved ones.
These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might have been the only image of the child the family ever had. The later invention of the carte de visite, which allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that copies of the image could be mailed to relatives.
The practice eventually peaked in popularity around the end of the 19th century and died out as "snapshot" photography became more commonplace, although a few examples of formal memorial portraits were still being produced well into the 20th century.

 So yes people could not always afford a photo so when a loved one died it would be the last chance to save an image of the dead before they were laid to rest. I myself feel it is OK maybe to take a photo of someone in a coffin or on the bed with flowers a photo when you KNOW THEY ARE DEAD. I find it sickening to pose the dead as if they were still alive.I have read up on how they posed the dead standing as in the picture below.

 The boy standing is indeed dead. They used what looked like a Barbie Doll stand to hold him up , two belts with a tightening devise surround his chest and pelvis under his clothing and behind the cover behind the children is a large balancing devise to hold him up. Look at the little girls face, she seems spooked to me. OF COURSE she is ! Her dead brother is standing next to her like a doll on display with his hand around her. I feel this kind of photography is plain WRONG!

 I may want a picture if I had a child who died like a still born, someone I would never get to know but NEVER in a pose.

 In some cases the eyes would be painted on the photo to look as if they were alive and MOST of the time the eyes were opened purposely to take the photo.

 The post mortem photographers usually made a child look asleep.
 I personally could not even imagine holding my dead child and posing for a picture, so sad. And eyes open in this one I could never do this.

                                    I think the eyes should be closed in respect for the dead child.

                                                Dead Child posed to be sitting and painted on eyes.

                 Lots of children died in this age from illness, it was not uncommon to have more then one child die                    a day.

                                           Lots of Baby's fell ill and died. Still birth was very common in sick women.

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