About Momento Mori Photographs...

Discussion in 'Photos' started by Airbornemama, Aug 23, 2017.

  1. Airbornemama

    Airbornemama Mama Loves You All Out There!...DA Admin. Staff Member

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    Photographs of loved ones taken after they died may seem morbid to modern sensibilities. But in Victorian England, they became a way of commemorating the dead and blunting the sharpness of grief.
    In images that are both unsettling and strangely poignant, families pose with the dead, infants appear asleep, and consumptive young ladies elegantly recline, the disease not only taking their life but increasing their beauty.
    Victorian life was suffused with death. Epidemics such as diphtheria, typhus and cholera scarred the country, and from 1861 the bereaved Queen made mourning fashionable.
    Trinkets of memento mori - literally meaning "remember you must die" - took several forms, and existed long before Victorian times.
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    It was common for families to have lots of children, and also common for them to die before their fifth birthday. In this picture, the youngest child has died and is propped against a stand for the picture.
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    Long exposures when taking photographs meant that the dead were often seen more sharply than the slightly-blurred living, because of their lack of movement.
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    Photography studios would take a memento mori picture and print it on cards for the bereaved to give to friends and relatives.
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    On some occasions eyes would be painted on to the photograph after it was developed, which was meant to make the deceased more lifelike (left) while other times death was more obvious.
    Locks of hair cut from the dead were arranged and worn in lockets and rings, death masks were created in wax, and the images and symbols of death appeared in paintings and sculptures.
    But in the mid-1800s photography was becoming increasingly popular and affordable - leading to memento mori photographic portraiture.
    The first successful form of photography, the daguerreotype - a small, highly detailed picture on polished silver - was an expensive luxury, but not nearly as costly as having a portrait painted, which previously had been the only way of permanently preserving someone's image.
    As the number of photographers increased, the cost of daguerreotypes fell. Less costly procedures were introduced in the 1850s, such as using thin metal, glass or paper rather than silver.
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    In this case, one twin has died while the other survived. The dead baby is surrounded by flowers.
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    Two girls pose with their dead mother, while a Victorian father mourns his baby. The woman on the right's cheeks have been tinted while her deceased toddler remains pale.
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    The whole household - including a cat - has gathered round a dead child on the floor, who is posed as if sleeping.
    Death portraiture became increasingly popular. Victorian nurseries were plagued by measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever, rubella - all of which could be fatal.
    It was often the first time families thought of having a photograph taken - it was the last chance to have a permanent likeness of a beloved child.
    But as healthcare improved the life expectancy of children, the demand for death photography diminished.
    The advent of snapshots sounded the death knell for the art - as most families would have photographs taken in life.
    Now, these images of men, women and children stoically containing their grief in order to preserve the likeness of a taken-too-soon loved one, continue to live up to their name.
    Memento mori: remember, you must die.
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    The boy's eyes have been painted on the photo, while the little girl is arranged upright, as if she's dropped off to sleep while playing with her favourite dolls.
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    The death of a loved one was often the trigger to have a family portrait taken - the last chance to have a permanent record of a beloved child.
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    Memento mori photography was not just popular in Europe. These pictures were taken in Australia and are part of a collection at the State Library of South Australia.
     
  2. katiesmomma48

    katiesmomma48 Drawing Blood

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    I have always thought these were neat. We have this old house around here that during Halloween they do tours and tell stories and they have the families pictures out to look at. They had several of these pictures and I always thought it was so sad but pretty at the same time.
     
  3. OP
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    Airbornemama

    Airbornemama Mama Loves You All Out There!...DA Admin. Staff Member

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    Now THAT would be a cool tour to go on, Halloween is my fave holiday and that would just put the capper on my night!! ;)
     
  4. Vael

    Vael Death Head

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    I like these pics so much :)
     
    Airbornemama likes this.
  5. katiesmomma48

    katiesmomma48 Drawing Blood

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    They always do the tours through October and tell stories about the house and ghost stories because it's supposed to be haunted. We actually live close to Waverly Hills Sanatorium and that is one place I've always wanted to go stay the night at! I just can't find anyone to ever go with me.
     
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  6. Mega Death

    Mega Death Death Addict

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  7. OP
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    Airbornemama

    Airbornemama Mama Loves You All Out There!...DA Admin. Staff Member

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    I will! I will! Oh man that would be so awesome, I can imagine every sound freaking me out more than the last noise. And how your senses would all be heightened, let's go! ;)
     
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  8. katiesmomma48

    katiesmomma48 Drawing Blood

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    That would be awesome!! I would so be down for it!! That place is on my do before I die list! It would be the scariest thing I've ever done for sure. I'm not into haunted houses because I set there and laugh at them and when someone jumps out at me I have to be careful because I accidentally hit someone on accident before. Lol I'd rather go see the real thing. I think I'd be so awesome!
     
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  9. oneleggedwonder

    oneleggedwonder Death Head

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    You would think this is something left in the past but you would be wrong. My mother spent her entire career in the photography business, and people would bring in pictures of dead loved ones, even as early as a year ago. The ones that really bother me, are when the person was not found for a few days and decomposition is obvious. These people are nut jobs and there are no pills to cure them :)
     
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  10. Bloody Irish

    Bloody Irish Death Head

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    I love these old pictures and backstories behind them.
    Excellent post again Mama!
     
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  11. CuriouslyDead

    CuriouslyDead Death Addict

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    Sounds like you guys have a road trip to plan.

    I went to Waverly house in San Diego. I was hoping to see something or catch something on film but nothing. I have seen apparitions in the past though.
     
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  12. Ptolemy

    Ptolemy Death Head

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    I really enjoy this post very much. Thanks.
     
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