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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creepy Post Mortem Photos From The Victorian Age

The people in the Victorian age seemed to like post-mortem photos.  I'm not quite sure what the appeal was.  Take this, for example:


Someone actually thought it would be fitting to have this girl pose with her dead brother.  I don't know -- seems rather traumatizing to me.

Typically, a post-mortem photograph depicted the dead person in a peaceful state of repose, as in a blissful deep sleep.

But some of these post-mortem photos went further.  Sometimes they liked to pose the deceased as if he/she was living:


"Ah yes.  Little Jimmy.  I remember him looking outside the window..."


The creepiness gets creepier.  Sometimes they posed the dead in a living tableau.  Take this post mortem photo of a fireman:


Yeah, he's dead.  Check out the eyes:


By the way, if you like the fireman pic, it's for sale on eBay.

Here's a particularly disturbing one:


Yeah, not disturbing, until you read about it:

This is a Petrolia post mortem photo by Robson . It was extremely expensive to have a photo taken during Victorian times. Only the wealthy could afford such a luxury. If a child or other loved one died it was a common practice to have a photo taken either alone or as in this case with the family especially if there was not yet a living likeness.If you look closely you can see a base behind the girls feet and a post would go up from that with clamps at the waist and neck and the clothing would be open at the back. The arms would have stiff wires running at the back to hold them in place. Also notice the strange placement of the hands. The pupils are painted on the closed eyelids.

Pupils painted on closed eyelids?  Let's take a closer look (click to enlarge):



I guess it makes sense.  After all, back in that era, most people were photographed only once (if at all) in their lives.  If the person dies before getting around to having their picture taken, the family might want to remember that person as they were.  Hence, the post-mortem living tableau.

Post mortem photography still exists.


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Postmortem photography is still with us, though, fortunately, such excesses as painting pupils on closed eyelids or posing the corpse in a standing position seem to have fallen by the wayside. The present version, where the cadaver is displayed at the funeral, not in a coffin but in a recliner, surrounded with sports memorabilia or stuffed dead pets, is becoming surprisingly more popular. "Oh, grampy's just taking a nap with all his stuff, sing quietly so you don't WAKE HIM UP."

I don't think there is anything more beautiful in the world than the work that NILMDTS does. Losing an infant seems to me like the most devastating thing in the world and if it ever (God forbid) happened to me, I know I would find comfort in their services. The wonderful photographer who has shared every major event of our lives since we got married is a volunteer with them and I admire the program so. I cry like a baby every time I visit their site.

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