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Old 22 May 2013, 05:50 AM
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Default Standing Dead Victorian Photographs


I am new to this forum, so please excuse me if the subject I’m about to describe has been discussed in the past. This is about the “standing dead” Victorian photographs being sold on-line. Collectors have apparently created a name for these—“post-mortem photography.”

I’ve read of pictures of dead infants and photographs of corpses at wakes, but the individuals in these photographs are standing bolt upright with their eyes open. There is a weird set of rules that “establish” if a person in a photograph is dead. These are:

• The photo is retouched, especially around the eyes
• The person is slumped or the pose is unnatural
• The person is standing inside a posing stand, or in front of one
• Retouching only occurs with one person
• A “hidden” mother is holding her child
• A visible mother is holding a slumping child
• The person’s coloring looks “unnatural”
• The person looks bloated
• The person has light blue eyes
• The person appears to be “clamped” or “tied” to something

Here are some examples of “standing dead” Victorians:

I know for a fact that many photographers retouched photographs of living persons during this period. The only legitimate pictures I’ve seen of dead adults show the adults in coffins or propped up on something (usually partially covered with a blanket).

Can anyone provide any evidence of a single, legitimate standing “post mortem” Victorian picture of an adult? Just a reference to the fact that it was taken and how it was done, preferable a newspaper article from the period, is fine.
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