Welcome to the Victorian Post Mortem Photography WikiEdit


WARNING: If You are in any way sensitive to pictures of deceased children, PLEASE DO NOT READ POST!

This is a page to share the art of post mortem photography and the way they honored the dead in the past. View at Your OWN Risk!

Visitors to this page are welcome to post, add, edit, and participate.

PLEASE be respectful when posting, adding, editing, etc.....Leave a note/post to let me know you stopped by and Thank You for your interest in our page!

NEW and Exciting Updates coming in the New Year-2014

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Aaron Neville - Ave Maria

Aaron Neville - Ave Maria

I am a respectful collector and fan of Victorian Post Mortem Photography, not for the shock, or morbidness.It is hauntingly artful and peaceful to me!

The Best Songs of the 20th Century - part 1 (1900-1919)

The Best Songs of the 20th Century - part 1 (1900-1919)

Years ago I bought a box of old victorian photos,...

and started a collection. I had been purchasing these pics for over a year, when one day I actually sat and stared at one in particular that caught my eye. I kept blinking, rubbing my eyes and looking closer when it dawned on me, the person in the photo was dead. I was already hooked to the art of the photos. At that point there was no going back!

One of my favorites from Ludwig Van Beethoven 7th Symphony 2nd Movement

Ludwig van Beethoven - 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement

Ludwig van Beethoven - 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement

Victorian Photos Honoring the Deceased!

'Definition of post mortem (postmortem): Done after death.''Post Mortem photography, as we call it, is taking pictures of someone who passed away.
In the early days of photography a photograph was expensive and only available for the more wealthy men and women and not for the common people.
Sadly, often these people had only the money for one photo and that was when drama hit the family.
When death had taken a loved one the family wanted a last remembrance to be made so they would have something to cherish and keeping it close to their heart.
That’s why most post mortem photo’s are taken with love and care.
Childhood mortality was even higher in the past and parents spend much time at home or the photographer’s studio to make their child look alive or just sleeping and having sweet dreams. Dressed in their finest clothes, laid out on a bed or couch with flowers and/or a toy.

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.

Evolving Style

The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.

Victorian dead remained in their homes until they were buried, hence the tradition of flowers around the coffin--to hide the terrible smell. The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject's eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse. Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States.

Post-mortem photography is still practiced in some areas of the world, such as Eastern Europe. Photographs, especially depicting persons who were considered to be very holy lying in their coffins are still circulated among faithful Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians.

A variation of the memorial portrait involves photographing the family with a shrine (usually including a living portrait) dedicated to the deceased.

Postmortem photo-1

A post-mortem photograph of a middle-aged man. The body is arranged so as to appear lifelike (circa 1860).

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