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The only one living is the man on the right

How dead bodies were rigged up for photography

ca. 1845, [portrait of a gentleman holding his dead wife] Post-Mortem. Photography was very populat during the Victorian era. Often living relatives will appear in the photograph with them. The most common kind of Post Mortem is mother holding a deceased child.

She looks inconsolable. The photographs with the parents in them are truly heartbreaking.

At first glance this could be any normal photograph of girls together on a sofa, but the one on the left is dead. Her sister has been dressed in an identical dress and asked to cosy up to the dead girl. She actually looks reasonably comfortable with the situation – after all, it’s just her sister. You can see that a book has been used to prop up the dead girl. Such a sad photo..

A mother and her five sons gather around a photograph of their late husband and father. Reeder Studios, Clay Centre, Kansas

If you look closely you can see the wire holding up her arm. She is actually dead.

Her picture taken after death, look closely you can see the stand holds her up. When a loved one died the Victorians were presented with an opportunity to imortalise their beloved in a way that was previously impossible: they could photograph them. Because of the high cost of photography, post-mortem photographs were, in many cases, the only photograph a family had of the deceased.

Dead young woman. Note her hands. The frameworks fastened at the waist and neck with heavy gauge wire to position and hold the arms. The clothes were left unfastened at the back.

+~+~ Antique Photograph ~+~+ Portrait of Young Woman reading.