Author Topic: Post-Mortem pictures  (Read 69508 times)

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Offline Teddy

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Post-Mortem pictures
« on: April 29, 2009, 09:50:30 AM »
When photography started, also the post mortem pictures began. What do you think of Royals (but also ordinary people, just like you and me) were photographed in the 19th, 20th century after they died?  It was then a sort of custom.

Because I've so many books on different Royals there are also some post mortem pictures to find in these books. I find it very touching that people maked pictures of the people the loved after they have died. When I see these pictures in my books its fascinating and touching my heart, but at the same time very disturbing and creepy.

What do you think?


Offline CountessKate

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 03:27:34 PM »
I've always thought it interesting that Queen Victoria, who indulged in almost every form of mourning known to man, didn't seem to have a deathbed photograph of Prince Albert - or at least, I've never seen/heard of one.  Lots of pictures of her looking yearningly at a photograph of a live Albert, or a bust, of course.

Offline Teddy

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2009, 03:38:49 PM »
Indeed thats strange. What was the reason behind post-mortem pictures in those days?

Offline Carolath Habsburg

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2009, 04:56:31 PM »
Well the main reason for most of the families, in special those who lost their new born or toddler kids was have at least one image of their deceased kids to remember them. Back in those days photography was a very expensive luxury for some families and they  have just one chance to keep a memory of their beloved ones

I collect pre 1930  post mortem pictures and i have tons of russian ones.

(Sorry about my english :S )

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"...Пусть он землю бережет родную, А любовь Катюша сбережет....". Grand Duchess Ekaterina Fyodorovna to Grand Duke Georgiy Alexandrovich. 1914

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Offline imperial angel

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2009, 07:33:11 PM »
I love this Victorian custom, actually. The Victorians had a different attitutude towards death than the one that prevails today, because death was much closer to them, mortality was higher. So they were realistic about death, and memorialized the dead. Victorian mourning customs might seem strange to us now, but they were regarded as normal by society back then. Post mortem pictures, hair wreaths of the dead and mourning clothing and jewelry were commonplace. I have thought about collecting post mortem pictures but it seems like it would be a rather expensive hobby, and I'm a poor college student. Maybe some people can post examples of post- mortem photos- didn't you say Teddy, there were ones in some books? I think it would add to the thread.

Offline Terence

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2009, 11:39:25 PM »
I've always thought it interesting that Queen Victoria, who indulged in almost every form of mourning known to man, didn't seem to have a deathbed photograph of Prince Albert - or at least, I've never seen/heard of one.  Lots of pictures of her looking yearningly at a photograph of a live Albert, or a bust, of course.

I recall that QV had a collection of death photos on display somewhere, perhaps in her bedchambers?  I just remember it seemed odd to me, but she had them around, lots of them.  I'd be surprised if there wasn't one of Albert as obsessed as she was.  As has been mentioned, the idea of death then was dealt w/ differently.

I'm sure there's someone more expert out there that can fill us in.

T

Offline Teddy

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2009, 12:08:22 AM »
Thank you all for answering. I know that photography was expensive in those days and that those pictures were taken because they had something to look at ( the only reminder of their loved ones). But for Royalty and other richer people there must be an another reason!!! A pitty is that I've no scanner so I can't put the ones on the forum. But I can tell you were to find them!


Offline imperial angel

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2009, 07:11:13 AM »
I think royalty although wealthy wanted a reminder of their loved ones too, and a favorite Victorian way to memorialize the dead was post-mortem photography. It was universal across classes, although since the attitude towards death is different today than it was then, it can be hard to understand. Many more people died young or in their prime back then, and no matter your rank in life, a photo, of a loved one after death was a good way to remember, although in the case of royalty they might have many other photos of the loved one.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 07:16:03 AM by imperial angel »

Offline CountessKate

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2009, 04:49:06 PM »
I think in fact it wasn't so much a Victorian custom as a very much older tradition stemming from portraiture - particularly from the 17th century onwards portraits of men, women and children on their deathbeds were popular.  The Saltonstall family in the Tate Britain and Sir Thomas Aston at his wife's deathbed in Manchester City Art Gallery spring to mind:





and there are many, many more.  The deathbed was popular as an edifying image of virtuous resignation, an image of grief, and a focus for mourning, and the Victorians were carrying on the tradition in their photos.  It's only the modern sensibility which has such a horror of death - until the early 20th century, people were much more involved with death and did not see it as particularly morbid to take such an interest.  It wasn't however until the industrial age and the greater wealth of the ordinary population that the cult of mourning could develop to such extremes as practiced by the Victorians - clothes, funerals, photos, paintings etc.

Offline CorisCapnSkip

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2009, 04:24:02 AM »
I've always thought it interesting that Queen Victoria, who indulged in almost every form of mourning known to man, didn't seem to have a deathbed photograph of Prince Albert - or at least, I've never seen/heard of one.  Lots of pictures of her looking yearningly at a photograph of a live Albert, or a bust, of course.

Seriously?  Then who was the lady who traveled with a life-sized portrait of her husband in his coffin?  I thought it was Queen Victoria.  Or was that just a story?

Offline CorisCapnSkip

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2009, 04:33:53 AM »
I collect pre 1930  post mortem pictures and i have tons of russian ones.

Please consider sharing your finds on the forum!  http://thanatos.net/swapforum/  If you pay membership dues, you get access to a vast archive full of fascinating images from all countries!

Offline Carolath Habsburg

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2009, 12:13:39 PM »
I love Thanatos.net! im member of that forum since it was the VIG one! Tho i dont have membership :-(


About queen victoria..i think she had a PM picture of Albert...

Check  the picture of Albert beside Queen Victoria`s deathbed


Courtesy of Grand Duchess Ally

"...Пусть он землю бережет родную, А любовь Катюша сбережет....". Grand Duchess Ekaterina Fyodorovna to Grand Duke Georgiy Alexandrovich. 1914

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Offline CorisCapnSkip

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2009, 04:55:14 PM »
Yeah, that looks like a PM photograph or painting, and I have seen some of other royalty.

Offline clockworkgirl21

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2009, 11:36:53 AM »
The practice is called Memento Mori, or "remember you will die." There used to be a site full of Victorian photos of dead people, and I sometimes would just like to sit and look through them, because I think they're beautiful. Some people think it'd morbid, but because afraid of dead bodies is a culture thing. Some cultures would dig up their dead every few years and spend a day with them!

Offline Yelena Aleksandrovna

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Re: Post-Mortem pictures
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2009, 08:27:20 AM »
I haven't seen to much photos of dead persons, just one of the Empress Charlotte and one of the dead baby of Marie Feodorovna.
This paintings are so interesting