Skip to comments.Haunting photographs of the dead taken in Victorian age shows fad for relatives posing alongside....
Posted on 10/09/2013 6:29:42 AM PDT by C19fan
Lined up for a family photo these Victorian children look miserable as they stare sternly at the camera. But their grim expressions may be understandable after it becomes clear they are posing for a macabre photo with their dead younger sibling who is laid out on a chair. These remarkable pictures show the morbid way that the deceased were remembered in the late 19th century.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
When I was young I had relatives of my Great grandfather’s generation who would take pictures of the dead laid out at the funeral home. I never understood why they would want that picture but the older people never questioned it.
I saw a television show called “1900 House” in which a family lived in a row house in England under the exact conditions a family would have in 1900.
The most interesting takeway for me was the vat of boiling water they used to wash clothes and the quoted stat that in 1900 approximately 10,000 children in London died from burns suffered by falling into them.
“Life’ll kill ya.” - Warren Zevon
A Ping for vaccine mention.
A woman I used to work with got a lot of grief from her family when she had her dead brother photoshopped into a recent family photo.
People are kinda weird about death. By “people”, I mean all of us. My take, basically, is that they are great for the garden*.
*See what I mean? ;-)
I immediately thought of the movie “The Others.”
I once worked with a woman who took a photo of someone’s father at his funeral (viewing). This was about 25 years ago. I had never heard of such a thing in the modern era and was totally repulsed. Not sure if the family asked her to or if she did it on her own. She was a little... unusual anyway.
Thanks to youtube, you can see this custom is still practiced, updated with modern technology. I’m not sure why I always end up on the “dark side” of youtube, but I have seen entire montages of scenes where family members pose with dead babies. Usually, these are entitled “In memory of ___” or “We will miss you, ___.”
I actually watched one of these all the way through. It was rather morbid, to say the least.
My own mother ordered me not to take a photo of my sleeping baby with flowers in the background because it would look like one of these memorial photos.
These days many hospitals encourage mothers of stillborns to hold their baby and the staff often take photos, in case it would help the mother process her grief.
I wonder if it might simply be that, due to cost or other factors, many people had never had a photo taken of or with the deceased (certainly in the case of the infants this would be likely), so they took this as their last opportunity to capture an image of the departed.
As pointed out at the original site, often there were no pictures that had been made of the deceased in life. Photographs were expensive then and home photography had not yet come about.
It is not macabre that the grieving family would want a photograph to remember their loved one by, or that they would want it to look lifelike.
Death is as much a part of life as life itself, everyone goes through the process. Words like grim, macabre, morbid, haunting attempt to make death something other than a passage to the next LIFE or the continuation of life. Pleasant memories of the departed brought to life by a picture? Don’t really see wrong or bad associated with the desire to remember those who have passed to a life we will all graduate to.
I have a friend who gave birth to a child with anencephaly. The child died that day in the hospital, but the family took MANY photos in the short time the baby lived, had footprints and handprints made, THEN had some portraiture done after the baby passed. My friend is so glad she had all this done, it is very difficult when you know your child won’t live long. I suppose to those of us who haven’t gone through it, it seems macabre.
You hit the money right on the head (pun intended) and though the article implies this by saying the practice died out after cameras were built which could take “snapshots,” I wonder why they didn’t mention the obvious. Photos in those days were VERY expensive for the average person.
I wonder if it might simply be that, due to cost or other factors, many people had never had a photo taken of or with the deceased (certainly in the case of the infants this would be likely), so they took this as their last opportunity to capture an image of the departed.Yes, I think you're probably right. And I don't find the images haunting; most are tastefully/lovingly done.
Wow they are just beautiful. Those children to me are not dead but asleep just like Jesus said. Looking at the photos reminds me that they are now God’s little angels. There is nothing morbid about taking a photo of a dead person.
When my mother passed away someone took pictures of my mother in her coffin and Thank God for that. That is the last image I will see of her on this Earth. As with my father I did the same, I took photos of him in his coffin. Their last image of them on Earth before they are buried under feet of dirt never to be seen.
The funeral taker stated to me and my brother that when father arrived they were surprised to see how he looked so serene and looked as if was sleeping not “dead”.
The young man was shocked to say the least and quickly removed them off the wall of his bedroom.
I'm one that hates going to funerals and prefer to remember the loved-one as they were alive (just like most people). We all have plenty of photos to help us remember. Back in those days there were no photos like there are today.
Wow! as I type this something had just come to me.
My dad's brother died in the early 1970s. My dad was dumb-founded to see one of the nephews snapping a photo of his dad in the casket. My dad thought that was somewhat morbid.
That branch of the family lived in another state so we never really knew the family as well as we would have if they had lived in the same city. I recently found my cousins on Facebook and became friends. Never mentioned to them the taking of the photo of their dad in the casket but did learn that their father hated to have his photo taken so there no photos of him. Now I'm putting two and two together. They must have snapped that photo for the same reason these old photos were taken. To remember what their dad looked like.
In a way, it makes sense.
Early photography was very slow.. exposure times lasted minutes.
Naturally you would want a subject that could keep still.
I see nothing wrong with this. It was a different time, and with the advent of crude photography, this was the best they could do to remember their loved ones, and their interconnectedness with them.