For the first time this year – Dead or Not?

skull illusion victorian post mortem photography children boat

This photograph turns up on the net quite a bit. It’s usually tagged as being post mortem – although not always – but I’ve yet to find any background information for it.

Putting my usual scepticism aside for once, I’m inclined to think that yes, this might be a post mortem image. The boy on the left has a strange expression on his face, don’t you think?

If you look carefully at the boy’s waist, there is a line. It might well be the trim of his velvet coat, but as it matches up with a second line that’s just visible to the left of his arm (as we’re looking at the photo), I’m wondering if he has maybe been tied to the chair?

The middle boy does appear to be giving what I presume to be his brother a slightly dubious look, and the smallest child just looks, well…resigned, bless him.

The boat is also very awkwardly propped between the subjects, with no one actually holding it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What do you think?



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6 Responses to For the first time this year – Dead or Not?

  1. Sarah Carolan says:

    I’d err towards this being post mortem too. That expression on the seated child is very strange and I couldn’t imagine a parent allowing their child to pull that face whilst being photographed, if they were still alive. It does look like a wire or cord goes behind the chair, but I’m intrigued as to how the head is kept upright as I can’t see anything holding it.

  2. It maybe possible that the boy in the chair is suffering from some sort of physical disability, hence the need to be tired to the chair. The middle boy has a similar odd expression.

  3. Melanie English says:

    I think I’m tending towards disability too actually – maybe a brain related thing like cerebral palsy – which might also explain his facial expression…

  4. Vicky Waters says:

    I agree that there may be some disability/disease process going on. The middle child looks odd, too, but that may be a family resemblance – all of them being just a little goofy looking in the genes. I have worked with developmentally disabled adults and children and they do indeed “grimace.” The smaller boy has a typical wtf look, IMHO. I am not sure any of them cared at that point how the boat was supported.

    • Sharon H says:

      I was thinking on the same lines as Vicky. They all seem to have down turned mouths but the little boy on the left seems to be the worst. Don’t think it’s PM.

  5. Lucie says:

    If the boy was dead, he woudn’t have this expression. I think she suffers from cerebral palsy.

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