What a comfort it is to possess the image of those who are removed from our sight. We may raise an image of them in our minds but that has not the tangibility of one we can see with our bodily eyes.-Flora A. Windeyer, in a letter to Rev. John Blomfield, November 1870
In most Victorian post-mortem photography, the deceased was shown peacefully sleeping.
Victorian Post-Mortem Photography 1
Victorian Post-Mortem Photography 3
Victorian Post-Mortem Photography 2
In deaths involving children, post-mortem photography was especially precious since little or no pictures were taken before their death. Most children were propped up and surrounded by their toys to give a more lifelike feel. Sometimes the parents or siblings were shown posed with the deceased child. A single negative could produce multiple prints enabling the family to send the picture to other relatives. Most pictures were thought to be a keepsake rather than an alarming reminder of short mortality.
Post-mortem photography occurs more often than not in today's society and many people take interest in it. Obviously it's very important to crime scene investigators and to the justice system as a whole. Many people have collections of post-mortem photography from the Victorian Era and are still working on expanding their album. Thomas Harris, a New York collector, explains his fascination, saying, "They are meant to be serene, and they are thought-provoking in appreciating the gift of life."
You can read the entire article here and view the entire post-mortem photography gallery here.