Curator Talk: Mourning Practices & Memorial Portraiture


Saturday, 8 September 2018 - 2pm to 3pm


  • General Admission: $10.00
  • State Library Friends Members: FREE

Price includes fees.


Metcalfe Auditorium, Ground Floor

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Curator Talk: Mourning Practices & Memorial Portraiture

With Margot Riley


As part of History Week 2018, curator Margot Riley will explore the prevalence of memorial portraiture in Australia, and the observance of mourning etiquette, as evidenced through the collections of the Library. 


The increasing affordability of photographic image-making through the 19th century saw the democratisation of portraiture, especially to mark rites of passage. While it's difficult to estimate the extent of this practice in Australian colonies, as surviving examples of post-mortem portraiture are scarce, post-mortem portraiture was one of many business practices inherited by colonial Australian artists and photographers from their European predecessors. High mortality rates for infants and birthing mothers fostered the commissioning of memorial portraits by relatives of the deceased seeking comfort and solace. Such images also operated as vital tools of visual communication between loved ones separated by the global diaspora.

Part of History Week 2018.

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