Well, ladies and gents!
Ever since the appearance of man on earth, his desire to immortalize himself and his loved ones, through images, have been born. Take for example the prehistoric rock recordings. Over the centuries, only noble and affluent families could afford this, as only they were able to pay for the portraits made by the painters!
The unbearable cost of posing for a painter was replaced by the easily accessible posing on the early camera. The middle class now had the opportunity to immortalize not only its living members but also the dead ones.
Post-mortem photographs, especially of infants and young children, appear at this time, not so much as to remind people of mortality but—most importantly—to keep the picture of their beloved dead forever.
Well keep reading, hun, it is becoming weirder! 🙂
Victorian life was suffused with epidemics such as diphtheria, typhus, and cholera. In Victorian times, child mortality rates were extremely high. Infants died days or even hours after birth and post-mortem photography was the only way for parents to have their child’s picture. In fact, it was the only picture. Creepy, if you ask me!
Post-mortem photography flourished in the 19th century to “die” with the widespread use of cameras.
The first post-mortem photographs usually depict the face or entire body of the dead, but rarely the coffin. The subject was set up in such a way that it looked like they were immersed in sleep, in bed or even in an armchair.
Children were usually photographed lying on a couch or on their swing, often with their favorite toy next to, or even hugging their parents. Adults were mainly placed in chairs or in specially designed frames.
Flower arrangements were a very common decoration of post-mortem photographs.
Creepy Tradition Today
Post-mortem photography survives nowadays, but in another form and for other reasons.
We have photographs taken at cemeteries and at a scene of an accident or crime, shootings at execution sites in countries that still apply the death penalty, etc.
But these are for police, medical and legal reasons and have nothing to do with the causes of early post-mortem photography!
Post-mortem photography has been an inspiration for many contemporary artists.
Known for his posthumous photos is Enrique Metinides, a newspaper photographer. Although he is photographing victims of a police report in Mexico City, he does it in such a way that, despite the disgust of the show, it manages to have an aesthetic effect. Thus, many galleries have occasionally hosted his work.
Joel-Peter Witkin uses corpses, or dismembered portions thereof, as carriers in his macabre photographic compositions.
Irish photographer Maeve Berry has consolidated her reputation with photos of bodies cremated in the crematorium during the cremation ceremony, thus literally creating the “final” image.
Well, that’s it, sweetie!
Thank you for reading this article of mine and write below your replies so that I can see them!
And please let me know your thoughts—did you enjoy the topic?
If there is anything else you’d be interested in reading about the Regency Era, feel free to let me know…
…and who knows? Maybe you will read about it soon!
Written by Olivia Bennet