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Photos Of The Dead: 50+ Creepy Photos Of Victorian People Posing With Dead Bodies Of Their Loved Ones

The Victorians were fond of some weird traditions and photography, including post-mortem photography. Although photography was in its infancy and the camera was costly and slow. For a single photograph, one has to sit for few seconds to minutes. Memento mori photography was a trend that came to be in the mid-19th century, which translates to “remember you must die,” was supported by photographers being commissioned at the time by families to photograph their deceased loved ones as a way to memorialize them. Post-mortem photography was also common in the nineteenth century when “death occurred in the home and was quite an ordinary part of life. Their photographs served as keepsakes to remember the deceased. While some people believe that this is just a myth, check out this article by Edward Clint. Here Bygonely has compiled a list of creepy portraits and photographs from the Victorian era posing with the deceased bodies. Vote for your favorite one and tell us what do you think about this tradition.

#1 Mother and baby, probably died during childbirth

Mother and baby, probably died during childbirth

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#2 Dead man in a chair with his dogs.

Dead man in a chair with his dogs.

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  1. Honestly this is a pretty good one (well if lifelike is what the photographer was going for) if I hadn’t known the context of the picture I would just assumed a guy was lounging in a chair with his dogs on his lap.

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#3 There is just something about her eyes in this photo.

There is just something about her eyes in this photo.

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  1. Her eyes were likely painted on. That was a common practice in Victorian era memorial photography as it was difficult to keep the eyes open and they felt it was more “lifelike” to simply close the eyelids and paint eyes on .

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#4 Living husband with his dead wife

Living husband with his dead wife

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#5 Mrs. Della Powell, died 1894.

Mrs. Della Powell, died 1894.

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#6 Edgar Allen Poe post-mortem.

Edgar Allen Poe post-mortem.

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#7 Little girl sitting sideways on the chair, the device propping her up is hidden.

Little girl sitting sideways on the chair, the device propping her up is hidden.

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#8 Living man holding his dead wife.The pain in his is obvious

Living man holding his dead wife.The pain in his is obvious

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#9 Little girl held in a standing position. The photo is a cabinet card from Villisca, Iowa taken in 1890.

Little girl held in a standing position. The photo is a cabinet card from Villisca, Iowa taken in 1890.

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#10 Mother and older sibling posing over a deceased infant.

Mother and older sibling posing over a deceased infant.

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#11 Deceased boy in coffin.

Deceased boy in coffin.

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#12 A rather odd post-mortem pose.

A rather odd post-mortem pose.

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#13 The girl standing in the middle is the deceased.The photographer attempted to make her look more alive by drawing on her pupils.

The girl standing in the middle is the deceased.The photographer attempted to make her look more alive by drawing on her pupils.

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#14 It was common for family members pose with their dead loved ones for these photographs

It was common for family members pose with their dead loved ones for these photographs

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#15 The dead girl on the end is being propped up with a special device.

The dead girl on the end is being propped up with a special device.

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#16 In this photo the subject is more in focus than her parents, as they moved while the photograph was being taken.

In this photo the subject is more in focus than her parents, as they moved while the photograph was being taken.

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#17 Deceased boy photographed with what was likely his favorite toy, a hoop and stick.

Deceased boy photographed with what was likely his favorite toy, a hoop and stick.

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#18 Deceased girl in casket.

Deceased girl in casket.

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#19 Deceased Infant.

Deceased Infant.

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#20 Unknown Boy.

Unknown Boy.

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#21 Dead bodies used to look alive by the photographs

Dead bodies used to look alive by the photographs

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#22 A little girl sitting on someone’s lap. The person held her in place while the photo was taken.

A little girl sitting on someone's lap. The person held her in place while the photo was taken.

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#23 Dead Bavarian King Louis II.

Dead Bavarian King Louis II.

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#24 Four girls mourning a dead dog

Four girls mourning a dead dog

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#25 The text on the frame reads, “Miss Jeanette Glackmeyer, daughter whose above photo was taken 9 days after death. Mother could not part with only daughter.”

The text on the frame reads, "Miss Jeanette Glackmeyer, daughter whose above photo was taken 9 days after death. Mother could not part with only daughter."

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#26 A family portrait with two deceased babies.

A family portrait with two deceased babies.

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#27 Deceased girls.

Deceased girls.

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#28 This one is obvious.

This one is obvious.

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#29 The body of William T. Anderson who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The body of William T. Anderson who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

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#30 Dead girl is is lying on the floor of the parlor surrounded by family members.

Dead girl is  is lying on the floor of the parlor surrounded by family members.

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  1. I somehow doubt this is a postmorten photo. a lot of people are smiling, and it looks like they just ate a big dinner. I seem to see a cat in one ladys lap. Much too informal!

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#31 Deceased baby whose eyes are likely painted open.

Deceased baby whose eyes are likely painted open.

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#32 Cabinet card of a deceased young woman in her parlor by a Rome, NY photography studio, 1890’s.

Cabinet card of a deceased young woman in her parlor by a Rome, NY photography studio, 1890's.

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#33 Deceased man with flowers

Deceased man with flowers

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#34 Cabinet card by Beniamino Facchinelli showing deceased infant, c.1890.

Cabinet card by Beniamino Facchinelli showing deceased infant, c.1890.

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#35 Sleeping Girl

Sleeping Girl

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#36 Post-mortem photo of Gen. Turner Ashby, a confederate cavalry commander in the American Civil War.

Post-mortem photo of Gen. Turner Ashby, a confederate cavalry commander in the American Civil War.

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#37 Dead girl with her toys.

Dead girl with her toys.

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#38 Sometimes, photographers would try to make it appear like the dead person was sleeping as in this photo.

Sometimes, photographers would try to make it appear like the dead person was sleeping as in this photo.

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#39 The dead boy was holded from behind the curtain.

The dead boy was holded from behind the curtain.

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#40 The pain in these parents’ faces as they hold their dead child is obvious.

The pain in these parents' faces as they hold their dead child is obvious.

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#41 Flowers and religious statues were often used as props in post-mortem photos.

Flowers and religious statues were often used as props in post-mortem photos.

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#42 Dead nun in Palermo, Sicily.

Dead nun in Palermo, Sicily.

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#43 A deceased woman positioned as alive

A deceased woman positioned as alive

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#44 Cabinet cards were made available as photography progressed – multiple copies of the same image could be created and mailed to relatives.

Cabinet cards were made available as photography progressed – multiple copies of the same image could be created and mailed to relatives.

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#45 Deceased young woman is holding a small bible or testament.

Deceased young woman is holding a small bible or testament.

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#46 Deceased girl, her eyes was painted before taking photograph.

Deceased girl, her eyes was painted before taking photograph.

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#47 Deceased girl.

Deceased girl.

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#48 Deceased girl.

Deceased girl.

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#49 Boy posing with deceased boy wearing the same cloth.

Boy posing with deceased boy wearing the same cloth.

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#50 With their deceased sibling.

With their deceased sibling.

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#51 The Corpse of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico

The Corpse of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico

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#52 Sometimes it was impossible to make the subjects look alive as in this photo.

Sometimes it was impossible to make the subjects look alive as in this photo.

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#53 Imagine how difficult it must have been to pose with a dead loved one. Here is an example of what happens when people moved.

Imagine how difficult it must have been to pose with a dead loved one. Here is an example of what happens when people moved.

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#54 Women sitting next to dead girl. These death portrait were meant to serve as mementos of the deceased loved one.

Women sitting next to dead girl. These death portrait were meant to serve as mementos of the deceased loved one.

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#55 Dead men positioned as alive, photographer used his arm to support the head.

Dead men positioned as alive, photographer used his arm to support the head.

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#56 A mother covers her face while holding her dead baby.

A mother covers her face while holding her dead baby.

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#57 She almost looks alive in this photograph.

She almost looks alive in this photograph.

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#58 Photographers employed a variety of tricks to make their subjects look more life-like

Photographers employed a variety of tricks to make their subjects look more life-like

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#59 Difficult to tell which one is deceased.

Difficult to tell which one is deceased.

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#60 A tintype stand is used to help prevent movement.

A tintype stand is used to help prevent movement.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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