Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures - Deepstash

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Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures

https://www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/why-victorians-didnt-smile-pictures-myth-smiling-portraits/

historyextra.com

Smiling Victorians: why it's a myth that our ancestors didn't smile for pictures
Our image of the Victorians is shaped by the photographs we see in history books – stern, austere and relentlessly severe. Yet there was a playful side to our 19th-century ancestors, and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has the proof. Here he introduces a selection of portraits that show the sitters doing something entirely unexpected: smiling

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The old Victorian picture style

The old Victorian picture style

If you have a look at Victorian pictures dating from the 19th century, you will soon enough realize that back then people did not really smile. The reason for this involves two elements:

  • firstly, the method to take pictures implied keeping the same happy face for hours to come, making it difficult for individuals to actually do it.
  • secondly, as dental hygiene was not well developed, many preferred hiding their teeth and, therefore, posing with serious faces.

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The picture called 'A playful smile' (mid-1850s)

The picture called 'A playful smile' (mid-1850s)

This picture is one of the earliest proofs that Victorians could also smile in photos.

The model is a young lady who poses typically for the period, however, letting a smile be seen on her face.

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The 'Giggling gent' picture (c1889)

The 'Giggling gent' picture (c1889)

The picture shows a family who is captured a bit earlier than expected, fact that allows us to see everybody's natural laughter. This is what used to be known as 'Gigglemug' or 'habitually smiling face'.

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The 'Three happy boys' picture (c. 1889)

The 'Three happy boys' picture (c. 1889)

The photo was taken after the Kodak had already been launched, which enabled photos of poor people also being taken.

The picture shows three little boys laughing and having the time of their childhood.

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The 'Childish humour' picture (c1865)

The 'Childish humour' picture (c1865)

The photo shows a happy baby sitting on his mother's lap, as comfortable as possible.

The baby is laughing and the mother is smiling- the mother-child bond was actually at the center of the Victorian so-called 'child-idolisation' phenomen.

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The picture of the 'Smiling Queen Victoria' (July 1887)

The picture of the 'Smiling Queen Victoria' (July 1887)

The photo shows Queen Victoria smiling in her carriage during the celebrations held in honour to her golden jubilee in Newport. The Queen was known for her wicked humour and passion for salacious gossip.

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The picture of 'A kiss beneath the mistletoe' (c1880)

The photo shows a couple of elderly people posing at Christmas time. Both of them look happy and at peace.

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The 'Goofing around' picture (c1897)

The 'Goofing around' picture (c1897)

The photo illustrates two women and a gentleman, who is making a bit of a fool of himself. Actually the Victorian humour was mostly based on physical slapstick to which one would often add wordplay and riddles.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Smile ≠ happy

Smile ≠  happy

Those who smile often are thought of as more likeable, competent, approachable, friendly and attractive.

Of 19 different types of smile, only six occur when we’re having a good time...

Duchenne smile

Duchenne was interested in the mechanics of facial expressions, including how the muscles of the face contract to produce a smile.

The Duchenne‘ smile is long and intense, though it involves the contraction of just two muscles. First the zygomatic major, which resides in the cheek, tugs at the corners of the mouth, then the orbicularis oculi, which surrounds the eye, pulls up the cheeks, leading to the characteristic ‘twinkling eyes’.

Fear smile

“When bonobo chimpanzees are afraid they’ll expose their teeth and draw their lips back so that their gums are exposed,” says Zanna Clay, a primatologist at the University of Birmingham.

In babies, a broad grin can either mean they’re happy or distressed and studies have shown that men tend to smile more around those considered to be higher status.

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Humor during a crisis

For ancient Greek philosophers, humor was something that had the potential to undermine authority and the good order.

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The power of laughter

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  • In our current crises, humor is everywhere because fear is too. Laughter binds us together against a common enemy.

When to joke

Poking fun at the ills of the world is only funny if they are considered benign. No one is making memes about child abuse that may increase during periods of enforced domestic isolation.

Observations about people's behavior can be funny if they poke fun at a social norm in a relatively inoffensive way, such as hoarding toilet paper.

Humour in philosophy

Humour in philosophy
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Humour and respect

Everyone who ever had to explain their own joke knows that comedy cannot survive analysis. Once you take humour apart, it loses its effect and dies in the process.

Henri Bergson published his essay on laughter in 1900. He believed that laughter should be studied as 'a living thing' and treated with 'the respect due to life.'

Conditions for laughter to thrive

Henri Bergson's general observations related to when laughter is most likely to appear and thrive:

  • The comic is strictly human. When laughter is directed at non-humans, we may laugh, but only because we have detected some human attitude or expression.
  • Laughter has no greater foe than emotion. Emotional states like pity, melancholy, rage, etc. make it difficult for us to find humour in the things we might otherwise have laughed at. But humour also appears to serve as a coping mechanism in the face of tragedy or misfortune.
  • Laughter seems to require an echo. It is used in the context of social bonding.