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The macabre beheaded portraits of the Victorian era

2 min read

It’s true: the Victorians beated the internet taking bizarre pictures which show 19th Century Photoshop!
My personal opinion: for many graphic designers (I humbly beg your forgiveness, but I can’t defining them photographers) it is not easy to remember the world before Photoshop and digital photo editing. Despite this, probably some people believe that, before the advent of technology, photographs were simple representations of reality at the time of shooting. However, these amusing pictures show how the Victorians were the first to edit photographs to create some rather bizarre images.

In Victorian times, the art of photography was booming, and photographic manipulation, towards the end of the 1800s, was a new and unknown art. However, the possibilities of altering the reality of a photograph were endless, but a very specific competence was needed. Photographers at the time combined images from more than one negative to create the novelty photographs which caused a sensation when they were first published.

By creating portraits with the most negative combination, Victorian photographers sought to win over the public, and earn more than just a professional salary, offering the possibility of being immortalized with their heads on their lap, or floating in the air.
Obviously the beheading was a theme that exercised a great fascination in the people of the time, and since a way was found to apply it without the need to cut the head of anyone, it became very popular.

Certainly it was necessary to spend some time in the darkroom, and you can imagine that this special effect is the result of a long, tedious and careful process which, as the photographs below show, some photographers were more skilled than others to creating.
Although Victorian-era men and women are often considered by us modern as sad and repressed, obsessed with death, they certainly also had a rather macabre sense of humor.

This macabre, but fun image of a man holding his wife’s decapitated head as she stands beside him, shows how the Victorians were the first to master the technique of manipulating photos:

Photo manipulation became something of a craze in the Victorian era.

Sources: Dailymail, Cvltnation.com. Images from Web.

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