During the Victorian Era, people honored and immortalized their dearly departed in a unique and rather eerie way—by photographing them moments after death. Take a look at some interesting post-mortem photographs that will make your hairs stand on end.
It’s fascinating how people all over the world have many different ways and concepts for mourning. Perhaps, one such interesting practice is post-mortem photography, which peaked during the Victorian Era.
Also called memento mori or memorial portraiture, this hair-raising photography usually involved both close-up and full body shots of the deceased, but rarely with the coffin. The subject was made to look as if in a deep, peaceful slumber or even posed to appear more lifelike. While the Latin term “memento mori” connotes the remembrance of man’s mortality, post-mortem photographs served more as family keepsakes to remember their dearly departed by. This was especially the case for infants and young children, as the mortality rate among children during the Victorian Era was remarkably high. Families often had no other photograph or images of their deceased children but the post-mortem photograph.
Deceased children and infants were often photographed on cribs and couches, some with their favorite toys, and some accompanied by their parents (often the mother). Deceased adults were usually photographed while seated on chairs, and some even posed using special frames and braces. Flowers, elaborate dresses, and candles were used as props. The “staged” mourning of the living beside their dearly departed was also common.
Efforts to make the departed subjects appear lifelike, such as propping the eyes open, often resulted in some of the most gripping yet spine-tingling memorial portraits ever taken. Why don’t we take a look at some more of them now?
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