Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Last Picture

No, this is not great-uncle Joseph napping after completing the Sunday crossword. Actually, Great-uncle Joseph (or whoever this really is) is deceased in this photo. The practice of postmortem photography (or memento mori) was a way for Victorian era families to remember their loved ones.

One practice sometimes used was to place the subject in a lifelike pose, such as you see above. This photo and many others are featured in a PBS.org documentary, "Gone But Not Forgotten". Further examples can be found at the website.

Postmortem portraits of children are quite common. For modern viewers they may be particularly difficult to examine, but because child mortality rates were much higher in the past than they are today, photographs of lost children were very meaningful to families. Sometimes they were the only proof of that child's existence. (via mental_floss)

This photo and others are from the fascinating and poignant memento mori gallery at Jack & Beverly's Collection of Collections.

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