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  • Chriss Cornish

    Victorian post mortem photograph of a little boy. His corpse has been posed as if sleeping after a hard day of playing. Note the hoop and stick toys. Photography was still new and relatively expensive. For many, an after death photo was the first and only time they'd been photographed.

  • martine pech

    memento mori enfance foudroyée

  • MaryLynne Marshall

    ..Victorian Post Mortem Photography

  • Elsie Carelse

    post mortem photo from the victorian era. Deceased boy photographed with what was likely his favorite toy, a hoop and stick.

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[Photograph of a young girl on a chair] Author/Creator: Shew, William, 1820-1903. Part of: Carl Mautz collection of cartes-de-visite photographs created by California photographers.

As you can see there is a standing post behind the girl. And she is ALIVE! This is not a postmortem photo. There is no such thing as a standing PM photo. Her eyes are painted in. This is because the exposure time was more then 10 minutes and eyelids move thus become blurry on the photo.

  • Abigail Cripps

    Then why did they have stands specifically for that purpose?


    Abigail, I agree. The only time they used those stands was Post Mortem. If she was alive, she would not need it there.

  • Abigail Cripps

    Actually, I've learned since that the stand was used to hold live people in place for long exposures.

  • Lindsay Girt

    Thank you!!! I can't stand all these people who think they know what they're talking about. Abe Lincoln has pictures where he has his neck and head supported. He was very much alive.

  • Rosemarie Wright

    Gah! Pinterest is littered with posts of so-called post-mortem pics. The labels are so ridiculous that it's almost amusing. Almost.

See all 6 comments

Originally pinned as a post-mortem, in spite of some peculiarities, the seated girl still does not appear to be deceased. It was customary during this era for a person in mourning to turn their face away from the camera, and the doll in her lap has been turned so that its face doesn't show. Would certainly love to know the story behind this photo.

  • Lynda

    No reason to believe this is a PM. She is sitting awkwardly, probably because the photographer told her to lean toward her sister and the hand-on-shoulder is a pretty standard pose -- and she couldn't have been holding up the dead weight of a body from that angle!

  • Susan Cantrell

    Not postmortem.

  • Jan Howard

    This is the first time I've viewed this photo in a while. The younger child was not very happy about having to take the picture--what a scowl! The older girl may have had an affliction on her right side. The right hand isn't in a natural position, but, as Lynda stated, it could have merely given that appearance as she was forced to lean toward the younger girl. I still see both of these young ladies as having been very much alive.

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!

  • Michaela Osiecki

    Rigor mortis is still a thing, I hear.

  • Veronica

    I'm glad I finally came across someone who realizes the truth of these so-called "standing postmortem" pictures. It only takes 2 minutes of research to see, in the very words of the photographers, that this was practically impossible. Even with rigor mortis. They used these stands on living people to help them be still. I can't believe how many people on pinterest don't know better!

  • Kristen <3

    Thank you! So many people have standing pictures claiming they are post mortems and are not. And Rigor mortis only lasts around 24 hours after death, and it would be still very heavy for a stand to hold, and difficult to pose if the body was in this stiff part of the decomp process

  • Bernd Dierdorf

    This is NOT a post-mortem picture. Victorian photographic posing stand, used to help subjects stand still during long exposures. NOT used for post-mortem photos!

"Sleeping Beauty" Post-mortem photograph. 1870 carte de visite of a young girl, posed as if sleeping.

A stunning carbon print carte-de-visite in beautiful condition. The photographer is Géruzet Frères of Brussels. An Inked inscription in French on the back in a fine period hand translates as 'Souvenir of our dear little Marthe, raised to our most lively affection the 23 March 86, Hector and Mathilde'

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

  • Marti West

    Why is this even included on a PM board?

  • Jessica McLucas

    look at her eyes....she looks like she may be very ill. possibly on the verge of death.

in June, 2011, "Kansas City police say a 5-year-old girl drowned an 18-month old toddler last Friday to stop his crying….The girl and the toddler, Jermane Johnson Jr., were both left in the care of a mentally handicapped teenager, who was sleeping at the time of the incident…"

Poor little ravaged angel. Are these older sisters? Aunts? A Mother?

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