For the first time in ages – DEAD OR NOT???

victorian post mortem photography skull illusion pytlewski two men standing

And if ‘yes’ – which one?!

Although I found this photo swimming on the net labelled ‘post mortem’, it appears to have originated here, with no mention of either gentleman being deceased.

What do you think?



This entry was posted in dead or not, memento mori, post mortem photography, Victorian and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to For the first time in ages – DEAD OR NOT???

  1. DARREN says:

    Dead.. The man with his hand on the shoulder looks passed…

    • Aly says:

      Actually if you look at his hands, the one at his side is kind of clenched in a fist but not a tight one, whereas the man beside him, his hands are stiff and just hanging there.

  2. Helen Lee says:

    Look at the feet, there’s some kind of stand behind both of them…

    • Violet says:

      Hi Helen :) I’ll c&p something I just wrote on the Facebook page, as it’s quicker –

      ‘The stands don’t make a whole heap of difference – they were used for pretty much anyone, because of the amount of time you had to stand ‘frozen’ in order for the exposure to take.
      There’s actually a valid argument that no ‘standing’ photo will ever be post mortem, but I don’t agree with it entirely.’

      • Helen Lee says:

        Ahhhh, my amateur sleuthing didn’t pay off then! Afterwards I did think hmm maybe it’s just a table. Still good fun guessing though!

  3. Damama says:

    The one on the left definitely looks dead. Not sure about the other one.

  4. jo wendes says:

    I dont think either are dead. They both look quite alive to me!

  5. Jenny says:

    The one on the right. The stand is a lot closer to him. Look at his legs.. they are rigid and his arm on the other guys shoulder is just too lose looking. Also his eyes look like they have been painted on !

  6. Frances Rose says:

    The guy on the left, as you face the screen is dead. look at the droopy eye, no life in them, and the way the hands just hang there. The other has muscle tone in his legs and life in his eyes

  7. Dixie says:

    I think that the man on the right is P.M. His legs don’t look like they are supporting him, the hand looks limp, and it looks like his sleeve is hooked somehow on the other man’s shoulder and supporting his raised arm. His eyes are really awful, and the stuff nightmares are made of!

  8. Jennifer says:

    The man on the right has no weight on the balls of his feet, and his wrist is wired to the other man’s jacket…the wire is visible.

  9. tchu says:

    They’re both dead. Their legs dont look as if they were making any effort to stand AT ALL, it seems impossible to me to stand that way and even more so at that time when pics used to take so long to be taken. The guy on the right looks a lot like his eyes were painted on and the guy on the left’s droopy eye is also a hint. Seems obvious to me, they simply don’t look alive. That’s not what living people look like. :-)

  10. Muriel says:

    I think they are both deceased.

    Both these gentleman are ‘standing’ in front of the stands for the contraption that enabled deceased persons to be photographed in the standing position. I suspect hidden from view are the neck and waste supports..

  11. Mommabeans says:

    I don’t think either is dead, but if I had to choose, I would say the man on our left. He seems to be standing out from the stand behind him more as if leaned up against rather than fully supporting his own weight. But I don’t think either is deceased.

  12. Lisa7 says:

    I say both. The stands for both are visible. The guy on the right has eyes that don’t look natural, his right arm is hanging too low/doesn’t look like it’s supporting itself and his legs are buckled inward and don’t appear to be supporting his weight. The guy on the left has a vacant stare and droopy eyelids, and his legs don’t appear to be supporting his weight either. Plus his hands look unnaturally posed.

  13. Lisa7 says:

    Also, the one on the left seems to have some disoloration in his middle fingers, especially in the one on his right hand.

  14. AJ says:

    They’re way too upright to be dead, and a standing prop can only do so much for a heavy corpse. Plus their facial expressions are also too rigid to be dead. They look awkward because taking photos back then was an awkward process.

    Not to mention the man’s hand on the right would’ve slipped off the other one’s shoulder if he were dead.

    • Violet says:

      You’re right, of course – there’s a huge swathe of evidence against any upright pose being ‘post mortem’. I’m not convinced they don’t exist; there’s some pretty definitive ones within these pages. But yes, it’s unlikely.

  15. Jennifer E. says:

    Most amusingly, yhis pic has been shopped with Lincoln and poe’s heads and is being passed around sites like Reddit as genuine.

  16. Violet says:

    Hahahaaa seriously? That’s brilliant :D

  17. Jennifer E. says:

    Yeah- one version here:

  18. Krux Malfoy says:

    The one on the right looks a bit off to me. In the post mortem photos I have studied, it seems that they like to prop an arm on, or around the living person. Wonder how much therapy these people went through, I noticed this when siblings are placed together. Now, the whole thing about the post holding them up, I have never seen one used for the living…..but that does not mean it did hot happen. I’d say the guy on the right for sure is deceased…the one on the left is iffy.

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