Image: Post-mortem photograph, Victorian era 1

Post-mortem photograph, Victorian era 1

Post-mortem photograph from the Victorian era.

© Bill Blanton


Photographs of a deceased loved one served as substitutes and reminders of the loss. Families who could not afford to commission painted portraits could arrange for a photograph to be taken cheaply and quickly after a death. This was especially important where no photograph already existed. The invention of the Carte de Visite, which enabled multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that images could be sent to distant relatives. The deceased was commonly represented as though they were peacefully sleeping rather than dead, although at other times the body was posed to look alive.

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