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Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Victorian View On Death...

True, I normally write about ghosts and hauntings. But I have a "closet" fascination. Some would call it a morbid one, to say the least. But it is practiced (though rarely) still today. Primarily in the south of North America's culture. A fascination that forces us to take a really good look at ourselves, our lives, and our mortality. And it makes us hope that those that we leave behind, will wish to remember us as we were, before death placed it's cold grip upon our shoulder.

Back in the times of Victorian culture, it was not uncommon in the least, that the grieving families would have pictures taken of their loved ones after death, as to capture their essence from life, in which death had robbed them.

The pictures were taken before the deceased person's funeral and burial. And some are so exquisite, that while, heartbreaking, they are beautiful.

The practice was called Post-Mortem Photography. The practice had begun in 1839. But died out after the turn of the century. These were not meant to be a morbid means of "clinging on" to loved ones. But to have a memento of those that were loved dearly. Especially of children, who died in great numbers back in the Victorian era, due to the very diseases that we have eradicated or have built better immunity to in this day and age.

The earliest works of photographers that were doing "Memento Photos" had primarily face shots, or full-body pictures. But without the coffin, in most cases.

As time drew on, then the photographers tried to capture the dead in as real a life-like state as possible. Sometimes, going as far as painting the eyes on to the eyelids, to give the deceased an "awake" appearance.

With some people, the photographer would lay them on a bed or on a love-seat and show the subject as if they were just sleeping.

Over on YouTube, I had found a lady who posts videos of collections of old VHS tapes she had of this very subject. They are made by GhostWatching.

While it makes your heart pound, and it leaves you a bit morose and makes the reality of your own mortality more surreal, the pictures are breath taking, and genuinely beautiful. Especially the children.


singedwingangel said...

I found some pics in
Gene's mom's stuff after she passed that I know is this kind of photography.. It has always creeeped me out but these were beautiful s well as heart wrecniching when you see the babies

Mormon Surrogate said...


Seeing those babies in their little caskets is heartbreaking!

New follower here! :)

pr0udmom0f3 said...

Hi Surrogate! Welcome to ParanorMel.

Indeed it was heart wrenching to see the babies and children. But they were shown to be at peace and those pictures were taken with taste and class.

Unlike post-mortem photos of our time.

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