More Post Mortem Photography

Ken AshfordHistory3 Comments

See post below

There seems to be a lot more post mortem from the Victorian era than I thought.  I'm not talking about death bed photographs (although there is a lot of that as well).  I'm talking about dead people posed.

Mostly, it's babies, posed peacefully in their cribs, occasionally with other children surrounding the crib, like a typical family photo.


What eeks me out are the ones where the deceased is made to look alive.  Here is a post-mortem photo where, if you didn't know better, you would think it is a family gathering (note the smiles) with a sleeping girl in the center of the room:


Or maybe it's a photo of two siblings, and one of them has their eyes closed?


That girl looks seriously creeped out, and I don't blame her.

This next photograph was hand-tinted to give the child a lifelike appearance.  Eyeballs were also drawn on the eyelids before photographing:


It wasn't just for the kids.  The woman in the middle of the picture below is dead.  She is propped up by her sisters..

Pm (33)

Sometimes  a simple prop is used to create the (unconvincing) illusion that the deceased is alive, but merely resting:


Some were actually quite good.  In the picture below, you wouldn't expect this to be a dead woman.  The eyework isn't particularly jarring.  However, her pose is rigid.  You can see the base of the stand behind her, propping her up.  And her foot is raised off the ground (something you wouldn't do in an old-timey photo, since you had to pose still for along time).


Another convincing one: