Quite often with these posed post mortem photographs it’s hard to be absolutely sure whether the subject is actually deceased or not. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much question in this case, poor lamb.
Image found on Pinterest [now a dead link - sorry!]
Looking at this post mortem photograph I can’t help but wonder what happened to that family after the father died, given the young age of the children and the lack of welfare support that would have been available.
This pretty little post mortem photograph (which is actually a daguerrotype) comes from the Henisch Collection of Penn State Library. At first glance I thought it was mis-labelled – she looks quite lifelike.
But if you zoom in on the image it’s possible to see that the little girl’s eyes have been tampered with after processing, so I’m happy to go with it being ‘post mortem’.
The library have added the following information:
(American) Post-mortem of a little girl, late 1840s Daguerreotype 1/6 plate Hand-tinted.
We’ve had animals on the Skull before, of course. In fact I’m thinking of making a new gallery just for post mortem pics of deceased pets. But isn’t this chap just the handsomest? I love how he’s been posed with just as much thought and care as the Victorians gave to their two-legged loved ones.
The credit on the photo is for ‘John Burton & Sons’ – a family firm from Birmingham, England who were famous for having Queen Victoria as a patron. This little chap must have been very well loved for his owners to ask such an upmarket firm to take his portrait, as theirs was unlikely to have been a cheap service.
“PM little girl, I think with painted eyes, glass eyes? I don’t like it, it’s not lifelike…it’s disturbing…”
It’s certainly very disconcerting to look at. It was fairly common for photographers to ‘dot in’ the eyes after the picture was developed, to give a sense of life. Obviously some photos were more successful than others.
This supposedly post mortem photograph bears the inscription ‘Taken 9 Days After Death – Mother could not part with only daughter – Miss Jeanette GlocKmeyer Daughter whose above photo was taken 9 days after death’ (sic).
I’m dubious – firstly, nine days after death? Even in perfect conditions I would imagine that considerable biological changes would have been making themselves visible by that point. Secondly – anybody can write anything on a photograph and we have no way of checking its veracity. Just because the writing’s there and looks old doesn’t mean that it is contemporary to the actual photograph.
So, what do you think – dead or not?
Image belongs to either Paul Frecker or the Thanatos archive – I’ll try to find out which one.
Another example of early photo-editing of post mortem pictures. This photo is from the Flickr member Gijsha, who says -
This boy named Herre died in 1873 at the age of two years and a half. The photo was found in his father’s diary, which mentions the following: “We had one portrait made in his bed after he died by Ephraim. Later he put the head on a portrait of his child, wearing Herre’s clothes, which became quite good”. A very unusual example of early photoshopping avant la lettre!
What surprises me the most about this simple and rather grainy post mortem picture of Elvis Presley is just how young he looks. I was only a small child when he died but I already knew him as the bloated Vegas crooner that he had sadly become.
How bizarre then that, photographed in his open casket, he appears less like the overweight, drug-addled man in the famous white jumpsuit and more the attractive young actor he had been years previously.