Today we usually take a family portrait to celebrate a happy occasion, such as a birthday or an anniversary year – bFor the Victorians, the death of a family member was the perfect opportunity for a group photo.
Fascinating images reveal the bizarre nineteenth-century trend in which grieving families have their portraits done while still being gripped by grief.
Wearing elaborate widow weeds and keeping photo of their loved ones, the photos show Victorians in mourning.
The photographs capture the full extent of the peculiar obsession of the era with death and lucrative grieving activities in the 19th century.
Deaths in the Victorian era were mostly at home and the death rate, especially among the poor, was exceptionally high.
Pictured on the left is a photo of Queen Victoria with Empress Frederick, both in mourning black, with a photo of Emperor Frederick III after his death in June 1888. A similar image on the right shows Victoria and Princess Alice with a bust of Prince Albert in March 1862
Twin sisters, dressed in mourning clothes, looked extremely unhappy around 1860. As death became more frequent and visible, the Victorians made an election of grief and devised an abundance of elaborate mourning practices – some of which even required female mourners to wear black underwear. to wear
Photograph of a group that includes Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden, Louise, Grand Duchess of Baden, Friedrich, the crown prince of Prussia and Victoria, crown princess of Prussia. The group wears mourning clothes for King Frederick William IV of Prussia in a photograph around 1860
Because death is more frequent and more visible, the Victorians made an election of sadness and devised an abundance of elaborate mourning practices – some of which even required female mourners to wear black underwear.
Queen Victoria would be the so-called & # 39; cult of death & # 39; and have inspired preoccupation with sorrow. When her husband Albert died in 1861, Victoria went into a state of mourning that lasted forty years.
Victoria & # 39; s creepy state of mourning was so complete, she almost completely withdrew from politics for almost decades and brought the whole country in mourning with her. Until her death she wore black widow's herb and demanded that her children do the same.
Embarrassed by her grief, Victoria did not tolerate laughter or geniality from her children. Accidental expressions of missing their father were rejected – seen by the queen as being disrespectful of his memory.
In addition to her strict black mourning clothes, the queen only wore black mourning jewels.
Victoria also gave several portraits of her and her family in the grip of sadness during this period. As a result, & # 39; grieving portraits were & # 39; a popular custom in nineteenth-century society.
A mother and daughter are depicted in mourning clothes in the Ballarat area of Victoria, Australia, on a photo taken around 1865. Shown on the right is a woman who is also in mourning and dressed in black, photographed in a studio on Oxford Street, London, somewhere in 1863
A group of & # 39; professional mourners & ns; unknown location, in a photo around 1870. The photos capture the full extent of the peculiar obsession of the age with death and lucrative mourning in the 19th century
The image on the left is presumably of an American Civil War widow, in a complete mourning veil. In the United States, Mary Todd Lincoln was the Queen of Mourning, not Victoria. Pictured on the right, three young women are shown in mourning clothes at an unknown location, around 1860
Following Victoria & # 39; s example, it also became traditional for families to go through intricate rituals to commemorate the dead. Women were mainly burdened by the rules governing mourning clothing.
Based on the traditions of the day, widows were expected to wear different styles of black mourning clothes for a period of at least two years.
The requirements for men were much simpler. Before 1850, male mourners wore black mourning coats, but after Prince Albert's death, black gloves and hair bands were worn with the usual dark suits of men.
Widows suffered the extra fear of loneliness and isolation during the mourning period and afterwards.
Where men could immerse themselves in professional pursuits, women had to adhere to strict mourning practices, largely stay in the house, and limit social interactions.
Given the real fixation of the Victoria era with grief, mourning clothing became a lucrative venture. Many stores came on the market, with the largest and most famous store being Jay & # 39; s or Regent Street in London.
The Jager (Hunter) John McDonald family in mourning. From left to right: Helena, Mrs. McDonald, George and Caroline, around 1866. This photo was obtained by Queen Victoria, who is said to have the & # 39; cult of death & # 39; of the century. When her husband Albert died in 1861, Victoria went into a state of mourning that lasted forty years
Pictured on the left, a pregnant young woman and a sister in mourning are shown together on a Carte de Visite photo taken in England, circa 1868. Shown on the right is Mary Todd Lincoln, in mourning for her son William Lincoln. William died at the age of 12 in the middle of the American Civil War
Opened by William Chickall Jay in 1841 as a kind of one-stop shop for grieving people, Jay gave every conceivable item of clothing that an individual might need. Victorian mourners still wanted to keep up with the latest fashions.
It was also considered bad luck to keep mourning clothes at home after the two-year period of mourning had ended, so this meant buying clothes again when the next loved one died.
Mourning clothing was such a money spinner that William Chickall Jay was worth over £ 100,000 (equivalent to about £ 3 million in today's money) when he died in 1888.
The rules were gradually eased and it became an acceptable practice for both sexes to dress in dark colors for a year after a family death.
In the 1950s, black was widely adopted by women in cities as a fashionable color and a counterculture trademark.
Pictured on the left, a woman in mourning with her son in Douglas, Isle of Man, around 1864. The photo shows Willhemina Ogg, the youngest daughter of Rev Charles Ogg, in mourning dress with an elaborate black lace cap, lace collar and cuffs, and a brooch, photographed in Queensland, Australia, circa 1880
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