Books about Post-Mortem & MourNING



Post-Mortem 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
Death in Folk-Art


Post-Mortem 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.
In 1998, 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, Usa. See Death & Dying.
The Burns Archive houses a huge collection of medical photographs and publish high quality books on special subjects.
Both, Sleeping Beauty I & II, give a unique overview of American Post-Mortem Photography.

A most interesting web site, showing a huge collection of post-mortem images, is http://thanatos.net/. Click on Memento Mori to view this collection.An other good collection of Post-Mortem Images can be seen on the web site of Paul Frecker.

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.

collection Veerle Van Goethem



The 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 Chateau de Moisse.

The woman on the left is Louise de Barral who lived in the Château de Moisse where the Fantascope was found.

See The Phantasmagoria


 Louise de Barral (1907 - 1978) Château de Moisse

Château de Moisse



 20th. Century Post Mortem

Post Mortem Daguerreotype

Depicting Death was most ovbious in the 19th. Century.
On the page Death in Folk-Art, handpainted skulls on cardboard or copper were used to decorate the funeral parlour

Copyright: 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 by Thomas Weynants
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