The Macabre Victorian Era Trend Of Post-Mortem Photos

To prop up the dead and make them look alive for one last photo was quite a macabre Victorian era trend. Photographers had to get creative to give their customers satisfaction. Following are the post-mortem photos from that time. Take a look.

Macabre Victorian era trend photos of the dead

Photographing the dead was a common practice in the Victorian era. Maybe it was a denial of death that prompted the start of this trend, but perhaps it also helped people deal with their grief.

At the beginning, post-mortem photos were only reserved for the wealthy, due to the high cost. Later on, less expensive forms of photography became available and just about everyone was able to have the pictures taken. You might also like to read the stories of people who received messages from their deceased loved ones.

Early post-mortem photography

During that time there were no funeral homes as we know them today. Therefore, if someone died, they placed them in their homes for viewing until the funeral. In order to disguise the smell of decay, they decorated the body with flowers. To get a good picture, great preparation had to be done in order to make the deceased look as they were sleeping.

Early photography kept the dead in their beds

Most people died in their beds, and their family wanted the last memory of what they looked like before they died. Since the infant mortality was very high during the Victorian era, the photos were mostly of very young children.

A more macabre Victorian era trend begins

Most families still preferred photos of their children in their beds. Others began to ask for more life-like pictures, like holding the dead child in their arms.


Also, photos of having a family member standing or sitting next to the dead started to emerge.

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The macabre Victorian era trend escalates

Photographers seemed to pop up from everywhere and the competition became tough. In order to stick out from the crowd and attract customers they worked hard to produce that special photographic memory.

They went through extra lengths to paint open eyes on the closed eyelids, and pose them doing something they loved.

Or they just propped the eyelids open. Which gave the dead a rather sleepy look.

Then this macabre Victorian era trend evolved even further. The photographers added special stands to prop up the bodies into a standing position. They used belts around the chest and waist to tie the bodies to the stand.

Macabre Victorian era trend.

Of course, the belts were well hidden under the women’s dresses of that era. Nearly undetectable.

With children and men it is more visible by their feet.


The practice of posing the dead in a standing position also involved taking a last photo of all the siblings together. Can you detect the deceased child in this photo?

Let’s have one more look at the hand-painted eyes on the closed eyelids. The widow is sitting next to her deceased husband for one last memory.

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