martes, 25 de octubre de 2011

The Spirit World

In honour of Samhain fast approaching, here are some examples of the Victorian trend of spirit photography, in which people would pay a specialty photographer to take their portrait while "capturing" the image of their dead loved one who would supposedly visit them during the sitting. 

It had been discovered that during the extremely long exposure duration of early cameras, an actor dressed as a spirit could enter the frame and be captured. 

Photographers charged extremely high sums for these photos, and those posing in them were convinced that their real dead relatives were materializing in front of  them. 

Spiritualism in America--and more specifically, spirit photography-- was taken to court in New York City in 1869. The case: a preliminary hearing for William H. Mumler, who was charged with fraud for selling photographs that he claimed included images of ghosts or spirits. Testimony and arguments lasted for seven days. 

On Mumler's side, witnesses included a prominent former judge who was also a spiritualist. Among the opposing witnesses were several photographers who explained how the same effects could be achieved by darkroom tricks, and P. T. Barnum--who said he purchased some of Mumler's photographs to exhibit them in his museum as specimens of humbug.
Mumler was eventually released free of charge, and went on to continue his work. While some believed him a fraud, others continued to believe. Mumler destroyed all his negatives shortly before his death. 

Frederick A. Hudson (England)Mr. Raby with the Spirits "Countess," "James Lombard," "Tommy," and the Spirit of Mr. Wootton's Mother. circa 1875

F. M. Parkes (England)
"Mrs. Collins & Her Husband's Father, Recognized by Several."

Edouard Isidore Buguet (France, b. 1840)
Mons. Leymarie and Mons. C. with Spirit of Edouard Poiret
circa 1874
Leymarie was the editor of La Revue Spirite, which circulated this image. Buguet and Leymarie were both sentenced to prison for fraud in 1875.

Phillips Bros. (Pontiac, Michigan)
Man Reading with Female Spirit Behind
circa 1870

William H. Mumler ( 1832-1884; active Boston & New York)

Moses A. Dow, Editor of Waverley Magazine, with the Spirit of Mabel Warren.Albumen print carte de visite, circa 1871.

William H. Mumler ( 1832-1884; active Boston & New York)
Mrs. French of Boston with Spirit Son
Albumen print carte de visite, circa 1868

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