photograph of Gabriel
Martin Joseph Zeebrouck,
one of the most common practice in 19th.
Century photographs, is often wrongly understood
today. The unfortunate mistake of judging these
images being morbide caused the loss of thousands
images that were ones so important for the mourning
process of people. Unawareness of the beauty inside
these images became the most destructive enemy
for this respectful LAST LOOK.
Although part of everyday life, today, the majority
of people reject death without any intelligent
argument. In the 19th. Century, early
death was much more common and people knew how
to live with this. The easiest choice today is
rejecting the other side but this attitude neglect
all respect for the departed and theirs surviving
families in the 19th. Century.
On this page, I hope to revive the respect for
these important and "beautiful" images
depicting our 19th. Century predecessors.
By experience, I know that this is not an easy
task but worth trying anyway!
In the right image, a typical Post-Mortem Carte-de-Visite
photograph is seen. On the back of the photograph
there is a poem written in Dutch. Most likely
by the parents.
Poem on the back of the
above Carte-de-Visite photograph, see below
See also images of
poem for Gabriel Martin Joseph Zeebrouck
Fortunately, the interest in Post-Mortem photography
is growing. In recent years several important exhibitions
were organised and books written on the subject.
The Teylers Museum
(one of the most interesting science museums I know)
organised the exhibition "Naar
het lijk, het Nederlandse doodsportret, 1500 - heden"
The catalogue gives a good overview of the portraiting
the dead from 1500 until today. Last
year, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris Opened a wonderfull
exhibition, "Le dernier portrait"
1/4 plate - Post Mortem Daguerreotype by Kips
de Coppin - Belgium.
Perhaps one of the largest Post-Mortem collections
is housed in
The Burns Archive,
Death & Dying.
The Burns Archive houses a huge collection of
medical photographs and publish high quality books
on special subjects.
II, give a unique
overview of American Post-Mortem Photography.
most interesting web site, showing a huge collection
of post-mortem images, is
to view this collection.An
other good collection of Post-Mortem Images can
be seen on the web site of
These collections, exhibitions, publications &
web sites proof that there is a new interest in
Post-Mortem portraiture in photography and other
art expressions. Of course, these images were
not made with an artistic goal.
Veerle Van Goethem
left image shows a Post-Mortem, Carbon print,
of a child in his original frame.
Many 19th. Century Post-Mortem images
depict children because, unfortunately, death
in childhood was very frequent at the time.
Judging the illustrated photographs as being morbid
illustrate the lack of respect amongst the onlookers
because they forget that these images were made
with a lot of grief and became the real last
look of the beloved ones.
Beneath are two Post-Mortems (new contact prints)
made from old glasplate negatives found in the
The woman on the left is Louise de Barral who
lived in the Château de Moisse where the Fantascope
Century Post Mortem
Death was most ovbious in the 19th. Century.
On the page Death
handpainted skulls on cardboard or copper were used to decorate
the funeral parlour