Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Art or a little morbid?


I have recently discovered the 'art' of post-mortem photography-popular during the Victorian age.
These often disturbing photographs were popular with families who couldn't necessarily afford proper family portraits and so didn't have pictures of the deceased in order to remember them. Sometimes families would have post-mortem photographs taken to capture the deceased as they looked when they died to give to family members who lived far away-so that they could see the deceased as they looked, especially if the family members had not seen the deceased for a number of years.

These post-mortem photos have become a form of art that some people seem to want to collect. I have seen a number of these photos on auction websites-like the one to the right-that are being sold. I am not sure whether I would class such pictures as art but obviously there are people who do.
What do you think?
Some of the examples I found on the Internet are a little too disturbing, in my opinion, to put on a blog-as there are a number of post-mortem photographs of live children posing alongside their recently deceased sibling.

10 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Oh my goodness! I can understand people wanting to remember the dead, but this does seem a bit morbid...I suppose it is an art form, in its own way...but a sad, rather disturbing one.

Ms. Lucy said...

I've never seen this before! Well, this is definitely taking creativity to another...dimension! sooo interesting (you always seem to find the most original things to post about:)

The Clever Pup said...

Hm. While it wouldn't wash in the modern day, I can see why it was done in the days when an average family didn't have many photos.

Sad and scary to my eye though.

Hels said...

As you noted, I think the Victorians were wonderfully brave. They lost half their babies in the first year of life and did the best they could to remember them.

I have heard of this practice these days, but only in countries where the religious police take young women from their parents' home and torture them. In these cases, the religious police took a photo of the body post mortem and handed it to the grieving parents. Was this some sort of compensation or perhaps apology to the parents?

Hels
Art and Architecture, mainly

TammiMagee said...

Thank you all so much for your interest and comments! A truely fascinating subject.

Hels said...

This subject pushed me on to discuss vanitas paintings which you may, or may not think were also morbid. I wonder.

Thank you so much for the link to my post
Hels

Profoundly Superficial said...

You might want to check out the photos of James Van Der Zee, a black photographer who did the same work in Harlem in the early 20th century.

Alaine said...

Morbid, yes but I understand it. It's made me sad.

Amy @ Passages to the Past said...

Children posing with their deceased sibling is creepy, but who am I to judge these people? I recently saw a picture of a deceased family member propped in the corner in the family room during the wake. To each it's own...although I'll pass!

HGL said...

In Aix I saw another exhibition - hair art.

It included "paintings" of hair in diverse colours with motives as crosses, willows ...

Maybe the dead's hair?