Some of the earliest examples of photography are also the darkest. By the mid-19th century, photography had become widespread enough that after the death of family members, some Victorian families commissioned post-death photographs of their loved ones. The images have this weird effect where because shutter speeds were so slow in early photography, the alive are often blurred, but the dead perfectly still were pin sharp.
Death photography didn’t come out of nowhere. We have dancing skeletons, erotic reapers, Memento Mori, and skulls…so many skulls. What recurrent symbols of death can we find throughout the history of art and why have artists always been so obsessed with death and mortality?
Content produced by: National Galleries of Scotland