08 June 2016

To Pose Before Repose

If you tend to have your eyes closed in photographs, and you have seen old pictures of your relatives doing likewise, the BBC may make you feel a little uncomfortable when learning the possible truth.

You may have heard of lying in repose and lying in state, and you may also have heard of a death mask.  But how many of your 19th century family photographs are actually mourning portraits?

This photograph of my husband's great, great grandparents and their children has deteriorated considerably though I know it was taken in Melbourne in 1896.  I had a strange feeling when first seeing the picture, several years ago.  I wondered why the mother had her eyes closed.  Now I know why.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.