As grisly as it sounds now, the tradition of photographing bodies of the recently deceased was a common practice more than a century ago when photography was in its infancy and very expensive.  Many times, a post mortem photo was the only photo ever taken of the person in life or in death and it became a very important keepsake.  Some of the post mortem photos even tried to simulate what the deceased looked like in life, even going as far as to paint eyes on closed eyelids and posing the body with living relatives.

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