Mournful Still-Lives: A Donation of Victorian Funerary Arrangements Photograph by Artist Lisa Kereszi

by Laetitia Barbier, Morbid Anatomy Programming Director

Last week, photographer and artist Lisa Kerezsi--whom some of you might know from Haunted, a photographic project documenting fairground ghost trains and horror attractions--very kindly donated part of her very epic collection of Funeral arrangement photographs to The Morbid Anatomy Library

Looking at them, one can wonder what materials has been used to create these crowns and other sorrowful ornaments. Are these real flowers, or beaded ones? Are they fashioned out of paper, feathers or even human hair? Some of them surround photographs of a loved one whose death is memorialized through the sculptural creation. Others bear a simple yet evocative motto, like " Asleep" or "Gone Home."  Even more surprising, a few of these are stereoscopes, allowing a person equipped with the proper device to see them in 3D. 

Lisa accompanied her extraordinary gift with the little text below: 

I’ve been collecting those for a while, along with postmortem photos and also funeral "cartes de visite". They just always stood out to me, and I wondered if they were taken by the floral designer or funeral home and printed out as advertising of what you can order, or were they taken and sold to the bereaved as a memento of the funeral? I guess it may have roots in some of the family photos I have in which the funeral flowers are featured prominently. I have one showing an El Camino overloaded with arrangements outside the funeral. I guess they just struck a chord, and seemed like an inanimate representation of grief.

These wonderful antique photos will soon be on display in The Morbid Anatomy Library, which will reopen at Green-Wood Cemetery on September 28th.

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French born Laetitia Barbier is an independent scholar, as well as professional tarot reader and teacher. She earned a Bachelor Degree in Art History from La Sorbonne University Paris. Laetitia has worked with Morbid Anatomy since 2010 as a programing director and Head Librarian. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

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