Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Still Think She's Dead - But . . .

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things."

Thursday, on Shades Of The Departed, will be dedicated to many things,
and nothing in particular.

Many Things Thursday

In the recent "I Think She's Dead" series of articles (listed below) I concluded that the photograph of the young woman discussed was indeed a postmortem photograph. A new clue has emerged that could change that conclusion.

The Western Photographic News of 1875 reported that a Danbury photographer had promised to revolutionize the photography business by the introduction of a gas that would render the sitter unconscious during the taking of the photograph. The Danbury photographer issued cards announcing “Photographs in all styles taken without pain.” The article does not say where Danbury is located, but there is a Danbury, Iowa. The photograph had been taken in Dubuque, Iowa.

So does our young woman look as if she may have been rendered unconscious by gas and is feeling no pain? Or perhaps the Danbury photographer had inhaled a bit too much gas himself. What do you think?


Note: No further evidence of the use of said gas has been discovered during my research. I find the idea of the use of gas to render the sitter unconscious, highly suspect. I have posed the question to several photographic archives to see if they have heard of this revolutionary idea. I will let you know what I know, when I know.

I have also received information from the Dubuque Library and Historical Society regarding direction for research on the photographer, photographic studio, and mortuary. I thank them very much, as I am sure the people of Iowa have far more important things to do and think about. As a woman familiar with the rivers of the Midwest, I send them my prayers.

The research continues, but I still think she's dead.


Blogger Lidian said...

I am looking forward to the next installment about your findings from the historical society. This really is a fascinating subject and keeps getting more interesting, the more you have discovered.

I am assuming that the gas was akin to hat at a dentist's - because people were nervous about their photo being taken? But this does not sound quite right either. A mystery indeed...for which many thanks, as usual!

June 20, 2008 at 10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is dead.

May 10, 2009 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Lorac said...

Amazing subject. Where did you come up with this? I think she doesn't quite look alive. I also agree about the skirt. That would have driven any women mad and they would have straightened it. Does that help? Some of the other photos it was pretty obvious that they were gone. Curious and curiouser.

June 17, 2009 at 7:48 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

I immediately thought, seeing the piece your posted about, that the lady was either unconscious from some medication or deceased.

As you said, the skirt is a giveaway, but also she's not slumped as a waking person would be slumped; that pose looks quite uncomfortable even in terms of 19th century photos.

Fascinating article, and I'm intrigued with the crackpot idea of medicating people for photographic purposes. Thank you for the wonderful research!

December 5, 2009 at 11:45 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home