Victorian Postmortem Photography
Painting the dead was a common occurrence for centuries, so it’s no surprise that in the Victorian era, postmortem photography became standard practice.
The beginnings of memento mori photography can be traced back to the invention of photography. During the 19th century, postmortem portraits were used to announce and mourn the death of a loved one, especially a baby or child. All social classes engaged in the practice, which became more widespread after the introduction of the daguerreotype photo in 1839. The subjects of the photos were generally arranged to appear as if asleep or even in standing positions.
For the poor during this era, many peoples only photograph was taken after they died. Families would scrape together enough money to have a memorial photo of the deceased family member with surviving members. For many, these staged photos were the only family portraits ever taken. These photos were kept in the family’s memorial album.
During Christmas in the 1870s, when he wasn’t sending horse-led sleighs piled high with food and toys to his less fortunate neighbours, the inimitable Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) could usually be found at the family home with his wife and young children, often pretending to be Santa Claus. On Christmas morning of 1875, Twain’s 3-year-old daughter, Susie, awoke to find the following charming letter on her bed.
My dear Susie Clemens:
I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands—for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples’ alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister’s jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters—I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself—and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw.
To read the rest of the letter, click here.
Ramon Bruin, a self-taught artist from the Netherlands has created a new set of incredibly realistic 3D pencil drawings.
In this highly talented man’s hands, a sheet of white paper and a regular pencil become powerful tools used to play tricks on our eyes. It’s amazing how various animals and insects come to life through Bruin’s optical illusions. Bruin makes use of anamorphic perspective, which creates the illusion that his images look life-like and 3D – from a certain angle.
The 31-year-old freelancer, who graduated as a professional all-round airbrush artist from the Airbrush Academie, also runs an online art shop where his fans can buy his limited edition prints.
(via Bored Panda)
Also known as Mary Fields, Stagecoach Mary was one of the toughest ladies of the Old West. Born as a slave on a Tennessee plantation in 1832, she gained her freedom after the Civil War and the resulting abolition of slavery. After the Civil War Mary made her way West where she eventually settled in Cascade County, Montana.
In Montana, Mary would gain a reputation as one of the toughest characters in the territory. Unlike most women of the Victorian era, Mary had a penchant for whiskey, cheap cigars, and brawling. It was not uncommon for men to harass her because of her race or her gender. Those who earned her disfavor did so at their own risk, as the six foot tall, two hundred pound woman served up a mean knuckle sandwich. According to her obituary in Great Falls Examiner, “she broke more noses than any other woman in Central Montana”.
In Montana, Mary made a living doing heavy labor for a Roman Catholic convent. She did work such as carpentry, chopping wood and stone work. However, it was her job of transporting supplies to the convent by wagon that would earn her the name “Stagecoach Mary”. The job was certainly dangerous as she braved fierce weather, bandits, robbers and wild animals. In one instance her wagon was attacked by wolves, causing the horses to panic and overturn the wagon. Throughout the night Stagecoach Mary fought off several wolf attacks with a rifle, a ten gauge shotgun, and a pair of revolvers.
Mary’s job with the convent ended when another hired hand complained it was not fair that she made more money than him to the townspeople and the local bishop. When the bishop dismissed his claims, he went to a local saloon, saying that it was not fair that he should have to work with a black woman (he said something much more obscene). In response, Mary shot him in the bum. The bishop fired Mary, and she was out of a job.
After a failed attempt at running a restaurant, Stagecoach Mary was hired to run freight for the US Postal Service. Today she holds the distinction of being the first African American postal employee. Despite delivering parcels to some of the most remote and rugged areas of Montana, Mary gained a reputation for always delivering on time regardless of the weather or terrain.
At the age of seventy, Stagecoach Mary retired from the parcel business and opened a laundry. In one incident when a customer refused to pay, the 72-year-old woman knocked out one of his teeth. For the remainder of her life, Mary settled down to peace and quiet, drinking whiskey and smoking cheap cigars. She passed away in 1914 at the age of 82.
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." - Nelson Mandela, 2002
You can learn about how he inspired the world in the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory’s online exhibitions and archives.
A look back at an adorable house tour featuring vintage photos of Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz, circa mid-1950s. The couple was captured at home doing all the normal couple things: frolicking by the pool, playing cards, looking at each other through newspapers. Why don’t we play cards anymore?
(Source: The Huffington Post)