Victorian Post Mortem Photography Is Spooky, Yet Interesting

Victorian Post Mortem PhotoMany people are drawn by Victorian post mortem photography, myself included. I can’t quite put my finger on why it tends to draw me in. Perhaps it’s the eerie, spooky, ghostly feel about it. I am not alone by any means.

Some of the photos cause me to feel sympathy for those depicted in these photographs. The ones that I find particularly heartbreaking are those that depict mothers with their dead children. One can only imagine how difficult that must have been. Being a mother myself, my heart goes out to them, even though all have since gone on to a greater glory.

So why were so many of these photos taken?

The mortality rate among infants and children was quite high during the period most of these photos were taken. For many children of this time even a common illness could be fatal. With the invention of the daguerreotype in 1939, taking portraits became much more common place in society.

Portraits before this invention had to be painted by an artist and were quite expensive. After the invention of photography it became easier for every day people to afford to get photos taken. This became a method for people to memorialize their loved ones. These photos would become keepsakes for the grieving families. The post mortem photo would often be the only picture the family would have of a child, for instance.

Victorian post mortem photography hit its apex by the end of the nineteenth century, when different types of cameras started coming on the market. This allowed people to take their own snapshots.

How did the styles change with post mortem photography?

Early types of Victorian post mortem photography usually depicted full body shots or closeups of the deceased face. The early shots rarely had a coffin in them. The subject would often be shown as lifelike. This sometimes involved painting eyes on closed eyelids. Sometimes the body would be place in a sitting position with other family members, or on a stand, so they would appear alive and standing with the rest of the family.

Children would often be shown on the sofa or in a bed or crib. Some may be holding a doll or other favorite toy. Some were pictured with their siblings. Others would be held by their mother or both parents.

Here are a few videos featuring Victorian post mortem photography:

Victorian post mortem photography seems to fit in with the creepy part of Halloween. Below you will find a few links to quality sites related to this subject:

Antique Photo Album

The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things

The Thanatos Archive



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