Memento Mori: Men

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A few months ago, we introduced you to the eerie practice of Post-Mortem Photography, also known as Memento Mori. It must have caught you off-guard last time, so now, we're giving a warning--the photos and stories after the jump are not for the faint-hearted. Let's start the series with portraits of men, taken shortly after their passing.

Just a quick recap: Post-mortem photography, also called memorial portraiture or memento mori, was a common practice for mourning and paying last respects to the dead that peaked during the Victorian Era. It involved photographing the deceased shortly after death, either in close up or full body. Although rare, some were also photographed while in eternal slumber on their coffins.

Post-mortem photo of a man propped on a chair, posed to appear as if simply asleep. Photo via Wikipedia

Not all memento mori photographs, though, show the dead in deathly repose. An interesting variation made efforts to depict them as if they were still alive and simply resting. To achieve this, special braces and chairs were used to prop and brace the deceased into positions that are somewhat more lifelike. Sometimes, eyes would even be propped open, or at least create the illusion of being open by painting over the closed eyelids.

Interesting post-mortem photo of a fireman posed to stand, with one closed eyelid painted to create the illusion of open eyes. The next photo gives a closer look on the eyes. Photo via The Seventh Sense

Despite its prevalence in Europe, post-mortem photography was also practiced in other parts of the world, like Syria, Russia, and Mexico, as evidenced by the photos below:

First photo: A Syrian Bishop; Second photo: Photo postcard possibly from Russia, with mourners gathered around a bearded man; Third photo: Photo from Mexico, of a man surrounded by mourners. Photos via Wikipedia and Paul Frecker.

Now, it’s time for the main attraction to prepare us for the spooky season hovering around the corner. Scroll down to view a gallery of interesting post-mortem portraits of men…if you dare!

Clergymen, gentlemen, widows bidding farewell, daughters mourning beside their deceased father. Photos via Paul Frecker.

Sources and additional readings:
Post-mortem Photography -- Wikipedia
Creepy Post Mortem Photos From The Victorian Age -- The Seventh Sense
Memento Mori: Spooky Post Mortem Photography -- Lomography Magazine

written by plasticpopsicle on 2011-10-24 in #lifestyle

2 Comments

  1. domo-guy
    domo-guy ·

    The scariest ones are when they try to make the dead seem alive. Especially the eyes...

  2. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    @domo-guy Indeed! You should check out the first Memento Mori article I wrote (under additional readings)!

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