I think this photo was post-mortem. Her hand at the neckline of her dress doesn't seem to be in a natural position, and her eyes seem distant. The hand on the stool could well have been used to help prop her up. Her hair gives an appearance of having been neglected, perhaps due to illness.
I think it would be cool to print and frame old photos like this in order to use them as home decor, even if the subject is not a relative they would still spark conversation and add some real interest to a room. Butterfly Girl (Cabinet Card) S. B. Hill of Austin, Texas has photographed this fairy child in a dark dress and tights with butterfly wings. The base of the photographer's headrest sits behind her feet.