The Medicine Bottles Postmortem
Thursday, on Shades Of The Departed, will be dedicated to many things,
and nothing in particular.
There have been several comments regarding the photograph I found the most heartbreaking, that was contained in yesterday's article I Still Think She's Dead - And Here's Why. Having done some further research I found the photograph listed in Dr. Stanley Burns', Sleeping Beauty. The caption for the photograph reads:
The painting "Rachel Weeping" is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and can be found here.
MOTHER AND FATHER WITH DEAD DAUGHTER USELESS MEDICINE BOTTLE ON TABLE; Anonymous 2 3/4 x 3 1/4", Daguerreotype; circa 1848. Both parents posed with a dead child is perhaps the rarest subject to early postmortem genre photography. This image is particularly unusual in that it is one of only two postmortem photographs where the evidence of failed medical care are present. At the time this daguerreotype was taken it was uncommon to pose with objects. It is not an accident the medical bottles are in the image.
The Charles Wilson Peale painting "Rachel Weeping" (1772 & 1776) shows a similar scenario. In the painting, Peale's wife mourns over her dead daughter. Medicine bottle are on the table.
Peale's painting shows his first wife, Rachel, weeping over the loss of their child, most likely their daughter Margaret, who died of smallpox in 1772. The picture was not meant for wide public display; Peale kept it in his studio behind a curtain with the following sign: "Before you draw this curtain Consider whether you will afflict a Mother or Father who has lost a Child."
The resemblance of the photograph to the painting is evident. When you access the painting please listen to the audio(x2) and enlarge the painting to see the medicine bottles.