Sunday, January 6, 2008

Contemporary Post-Mortem Photography

A Colorado nonprofit organization has revived a grieving custom widely practiced in the nineteenth century, particularly in Britain and the United States: the making of photographic portraits of the dead, or "memento mori."

Read whole story on The Victorain Peeper. Make sure to check out the excellent links to 19th Century post-mortem photograph collections (from which these images were drawn) as well.


Anonymous said...

The best and oldest online archive of early postmortem photography is located at

Hollygoyle said...

There's a rare book out there called "Sleeping Beauties" that features hundreds of post-mortum portraits.

I do volunteer work at a Victorian Mansion and they have a copy of this book. It's absolutely beautiful, even if a little creepy.

I would love to have my own copy, but even time I check ebay or Amazon they want over $300 for it.

Anonymous said...

Duranfan - "Sleeping Beauty: Post-Mortem Photography in America" is out of print and that's why it's so expensive. You probably won't be able to find it for under $300. I honestly haven't seen it for under $400, and the $400 ones are usually the copies with imperfections and wear & tear. I have my own copy that I purchased for $40 long before it went out of print. There's a second edition--not sure if it's out of print yet.
Anonymous -- True, does have the best archive, but I believe it's no longer free.

JE said...

Yes, Sleeping Beauty is a great book--I got a copy before it was out-of-print as well. Who knew, then, it would become a collector's item?

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty certain that Sleeping Beauty II is also out of print. I have seen both books thru the Inter Library Loan program at the college I attend. They are truly phenomenal!

fluffy said...

while it is true that there is a fee to join, I have to say, it has been worth it in my opinion, the archive is immense and pictures often have some history or backstory attached to them as opposed to being presented with no historical context, also, there are no ads there. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in postmortem photography or any vintage photography. the community is also marvelous.