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Before their burial, the deceased would be photographed in their best clothes and 'posing' (propped up) with their living relatives. In some instances, eyes were painted onto the closed eyelids of the deceased to make them appear alive. In Victorian times when photographs were rare, this might be the only photo the family had of their dearly departed.

Her intense gaze and the beautiful doll both help make this Victorian portrait an especially memorable one. 1800s

Post Mortem Photography: sometimes they let the eyes open to let the deceased look alive. You can easily see there is no life in those eyes. Via Flickr.

Standing post mortems are an urban legend. Stands were used to steady people for long exposure times used in photography at that time. It's impossible to prop up a dead person in this fashion! The stand couldn't hold up that much 'dead weight', the mouth would hang open, and the head and limbs would flop down. Could a person even hold up a dead child and have her look natural? No, and a stand can't do it either!

This was said to be a postmortem. However, a base was used to steady a living person, not to prop up a dead person. Source: Wikipedia.

Victorian Post Mortem So Sad. So beautiful. So haunting. A lasting memory for the family.

Sisters... and a reminder to me to go stalk Karen W's pinboard for some gorgeous finds! :)

an example of the stands they would use to hold up the dead people while they took the photo

Victorian post mortem photo( People will come for me. I know someone father chose will be here shortly. Must be a stranger in these parts because the sun has lowered as if to the ground an as impatience

most often the family would have the siblings of the deceased in the photo as well.

mdolla: Stiff Pose Victorian Postmortem photography (140 Pics)