Daguerreotype, applied color
Image: 4.2 x 5.5 cm (1 5/8 x 2 3/16 in.); Case: 8.1 x 9.4 x 1.5 cm (3 3/16 x 3 11/16 x 9/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)
L. E. Holden Fund 1996.22
Children have always been particularly cherished subjects for photography. Portraits were made to preserve the memory of their stages of growth and, in an age when long-distance travel was rare, to share with faraway relatives. And, for a sadder reason: in 1840 an estimated one-third of children died before age five. Photography offered grieving parents the opportunity to immortalize their children’s features. This tragic genre of photographs, later called “post-mortems,” often depicts the children in fine clothing, laying down with eyes shut, as if merely napping.
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