“Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America”


“Secure the shadow ere the substance fades,” one of the earliest slogans used by commercial photographers, refers to the light-catching nature of the medium but also to the Victorian-era practice of depicting corpses in lifelike poses. “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America” gathers paintings, locket miniatures, silhouettes, and daguerreotypes to demonstrate one of the more macabre—and heartrending—facets of visual commemoration in an era of high infant mortality and decimating civil war. —Julia Wolkoff


Pictured: Michele Felice Cornè: Death of William, c. 1807, watercolor and gouache on paper, 19½ by 15 inches. Courtesy Peabody Essex Museum. Photo Kathy Tarantola.