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Art History Illustrated, Forget Me Not: Victorian Postmortem Photography

Thursday, February 16, 2023

6:30-7:30 PM

Photography was a new invention in the Victorian age.  It was also expensive; only those who could afford it were privileged to have photographic portraits made of their families.  Sadly, another hallmark of the era was a short life expectancy.  These factors contributed to the ghoulish phenomenon of postmortem photography: often, in the event of an untimely and unexpected death, there would be no photographs of a person, so capturing an image of the deceased would be the last chance to preserve their memory in visual form.  Art historian Brenda Edgar will investigate the cumbersome technology as well as specialized techniques and styles of the genre and look at many haunting examples of these deathly mementos. 

Join us for our “Art History Illustrated” talk series, held the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. This monthly illustrated talk series is presented by art historian Brenda Edgar, in collaboration with the Carnegie Center for Art and History.

Image: Emil, Maria and baby Anna Keller, post-mortem photograph of a murder-suicide in 1894, from the Thanatos Archive.

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