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William H. Mumler (American, 1832 - 1884)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States (Place Created)
Albumen silver print
9.5 × 5.7 cm (3 3/4 × 2 1/4 in.)
The Spiritualist movement was founded on the belief that the human soul exists beyond the body and that the dead could communicate with the living. This concept developed in the 1850s and gained momentum in the United States after the Civil War. Mumler claimed to be able to photograph the spirits of departed loved ones. Although his methods were never disclosed, he made ghostly images by incorporating an existing picture of the deceased into a new photograph he made of the surviving relative. His eight-year-long activity was marked by highly publicized civil court trials for fraud.
In Focus: The Portrait (January 27 to June 14, 2009)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 27 to June 14, 2009
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- The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), October 10, 2012 to January 27, 2013
- National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), February 17 to May 5, 2013
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 2 to August 25, 2013