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Posts Tagged ‘memento mori’

Two posts ago, in What I Discovered in the Box of Unscanned Remine Photos, I posted a photo of two girls circa 1870s or 1880s. One reader wondered if one of the girls could be deceased. She saw the wooden stand behind the girl. While I didn’t think this particular girl was deceased, and photographers mainly used stands behind people to help them hold still for the 15-20 minutes required to take the photo, it is true that photos of the dead, called Memento Mori, were quite common.

In fact, I have a Pinterest board devoted to the subject.

Of all the antique photos that I have in my collection, I don’t think I have any memento mori. Apparently, the style did not catch on with my relatives. By the beginning of the 20th century, most of the Victorian form of photographing the dead had (sorry) died out.

However, there is one photo that sometimes I wonder about . . . .

This particular photo might, in fact, be too late. The photographer was in business from at least 1899-1915. I found researched information on the site Bushwacking Genealogy.

Dornbush, Henry G.: Lived 1878-1962. In business at least 1899-1915. Not a photographer in 1920 census.
1899-1915:  120 E. Main

But maybe he was in business a bit before 1899. Or maybe this photo is from 1899 or 1900 and was on the tail end of the fashion.

Why do I wonder about this photograph? Notice the rose the man is wearing. It is upside down. In the 19th century, flowers were a language between people. This photograph has the general feeling of a wedding portrait because of the flowers, but because his flower is upside down, it likely means he is in mourning.

Notice how her body leans into and behind him, but is stiff in appearance. Her gaze is directed off somewhere, while he looks into the camera.

I would like to identify this couple. It’s very possible they are on my family tree. Just in case she is deceased here, any ideas for how to compile a search on Ancestry of death dates? After all, I have a couple thousand people to sort through.

What do you think? Is this photograph memento mori or can all the clues be explained away?

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