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M is for...

...Memento Mori

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
---Edgar Allan Poe

The Physician
Ah, Memento Mori---- something I've had a *ahem* morbid fascination with for, well, years.

These artistic reminders of death's inevitability are for most people, as terrifying as they are moving...shocking as they are awe-inspiring.

Believed to have originated from the Latin lines: "Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento Mori!" Look behind you! Remember you are a man! Remember that you'll die!

There is an abundance of "death" art, from sculptures and paintings, to illustrated Tarot decks and iconography. Death is all around us and the Memento Mori are a way for us to, not only be reminded of it, but, to cope with the idea of it.

For me, nothing captures Memento Mori in its truest essence more than post-mortem photography---once the art of photography was invented, that is.

And, there were no greater artisans of post-mortem photography than the skilled photographers from the Victorian Age.

It was quite the tradition to dress the dearly departed in their finest attire and pose them for one final photo-op. It was a wonderful way to treasure and preserve the loved ones that had passed on. Many photos show the recently deceased in a state of repose--they almost appear to have been photographed while they were sleeping.

Other photos, however, show the deceased in elaborate poses--eyes open, props included, and positioned in such a way (often with very living relatives) that it made it difficult to believe the subject of the photo was no longer alive...

Deceased Child between mourning parents
Deceased Child

Deceased Girl posed with stand
(can see edge of stand behind her)
Both Mother and Child Deceased

Girl in chair deceased,
held in place by kneeling girl 

Husband and wife, both deceased,
can see edge of stand behind his leg, her
stand obscured by her skirt
Deceased boy, strapped to chair


  1. Where do you find these? I've seen macabre before, but these go beyond that. I think I need to go back to bed. NO! Don't lie down! And whatever you do, don't let someone put a stand behind you for your next photo session.

    1. LOL, you're right about that stand---if I see one coming my way, I don't plan on hanging around for very long!!

  2. in the one with the parents on either side and the girl, you can tell because it was physically impossible for a living being to hold completely still, and that is why she is way more in focus than the parents. so it seems that the parents are more ghostly than the girl.

    my imagination is going a little too wild. I hope they took these pictures very soon after death because . . . yeah . . . ew!

    1. You're right about the living looking more "ghostly" in the pics. There were some photos I came across that made those alive in the picture look almost blurred out. :-)


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