8/12/10

Dressed to Distress

Mourning in the 19th century was a heavy psychological burden and a time-consuming duty. Mourning was divided into time stages and each stage had its own dress and duties. In the first stage, black was worn and that included accessories, such as jewelry. A veil completely covered the woman’s face. In the second stage, pictured here, the veil is lifted off the face and white, as seen here or any non-black jewelry could be worn. In the third stage, “semi-mourning” clothes were worn, remnants that showed one was a mourner. In the nineteenth century, specialty  stores were dedicated to the sale of mourning paraphernalia. One of the last such stores closed in Philadelphia in the early 1950s
©2010 The Burns Archive
Parents with Second Stage Mourning Clothes, Daguerreotype, Circa 1847
Above Taken From Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America, Burns Press
©2010 The Burns Archive
Woman in Mourning Attire, Decorative Hanging Frame, Albumen Print, Circa 1865
©2010 The Burns Archive
Woman in Mourning Dress Holding a Portrait of Deceased, Circa 1870
The use of the photograph to take the place of an actual object or person is one of the evidences of the authority of photography as representation of the real. Photography allowed for creation of a tangible object that represented the lost person. It could be held in the hand, and looked at over the years. It was a novel way to solve contradiction: the need to push the dead away and the need to keep the dead alive.


©2010 The Burns Archive
(Detail) Woman in Mourning Dress Holding a Portrait of Deceased, Circa 1870


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