Friday, July 20, 2012

Postmortem Photography

Post-Mortem photography was a common custom during the beginning of the 19th century. It eventually replaced the older and more costly use of posthumous paintings. With the inevntion and popularization of the photograph came the ability for the middle class to memorialize their loved ones. A family that could not afford a lavish funeral or beautiful headstone could finally, at the very least, immortalize their memories via a photograph. At a time when photographs were still new, this practice was not perceived as morbid. Posthumous photos were a testament to the lives of those gone before. In Victorian society birth and death rates were almost equal. Young children in particular faced a broad number of risks from childhood diseases to contaminated bottles and patent medicines. Because of this most post-mortem photographs are of small children. Most families did not take regular pictures of their children because of the expense involved; a post-mortem photograph was often the only picture of a child the family had. Children were sometimes posed sitting up, with their eyes open and favorite toy in hand, or in the arms of their mother.

Info from here

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