Back in the early days of photography many where not sure what to do with the marvelous technology of capturing still images. One of the more morbid aspects of early photography combined photography with the curiosity that the public had of death.
As a result, many of the Victorians of the 19th century, hired photographers to take staged post-mortem pictures of the recently deceased - a way of preserving the image of someone taken away by the cold hand of death.
In many cases, these images taken after someone's death were the only pictures ever taken of these people.
Sometimes, to simulate life, eyes were painted on closed eyelids.