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How The Dead Posed For Pictures In Victorian Era

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The invention of the daguerreotype photographic process in 1839 made portraiture highly accessible to the masses.

Before this time, commissioning a painted portrait of the deceased was the respectable way to immortalize the memory of a loved one. The invention of photography made creating mementos of the deceased more efficient and affordable.

The resulting pictures were, by our standards today, rather peculiar. Some pictures showed the dead in their upright coffins, surrounded by their family and friends.

In numerous others, the deceased was ‘styled’ to look like they were life-like, with some of them ‘posing’ with their pupils painted onto their eyelids or when possible, with their eyes propped open!

The Victorian era had high infant mortality rates. Children were often shown sleeping peacefully in a chair or crib, while their accompanying adults generally sat in chairs close by.

Nevertheless, the practice fell out of fashion in the early 20th century as photos lost some of their eminence due to the widespread use of the snapshot.


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