The invention of photography during the late 19th century prompted a new and bizarre way for the Victorian’s to remember their dead. Post-mortem photography also known as “memento mori” (Latin for ‘reminder of death’) was the art of taking photos of deceased loved ones.
The Victorian era was plagued by poverty and most families were unable to afford painted portraits that captured their loved ones in the prime of life. Instead they turned to the cheaper alternative of photography in the hope of retaining a memory of the deceased.
This popular trend often featured the living posed next to their deceased siblings, sons or daughters in eerie lifelike portraits, which in many cases were the only images family members had of their loved-ones.
Early forms of the photography featured the deceased looking serene within a coffin with family members huddled closely around it, while in others the deceased were propped up and posed to create more life-like portraits.
Take a look at the photo gallery below which shows a selection of post-mortem photography.
(Photographs taken from sharing site Imgur and is not subject to copyright as copyright has expired, permission also gained from publisher Gregory Sullivan some images taken from gallery site)