I wanted to share a Flickr site I discovered a couple of weeks ago into which I have already sunk many hours of computer browsing time: The Lost Gallery. Now, I don’t know whether this Flickr account (which seems to be French) has any connection with the two or three “Lost Gallery” websites I’ve found online (I don’t think so, because the subject matter seems very different), but the Flickr site is exactly what it sounds like: a vast repository for paintings, photographs and other portraits of dead people, primarily royalty and nobility from a number of different countries.
Most intriguing for me is the set called “Proto,” consisting of imaginative depictions of those who may have been famous during their lifetimes but are seldom depicted now, probably because their likenesses have long since been lost; even their names are unknown to many. For example, who remembers Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent anymore? Or Anne of Bohemia? This set bears the touching subtitle: “Et tu, memento mori,” which reinforces my suspicion that the account owner’s intention was to set aside a space online where the mostly forgotten could be remembered. Among the more conventional sets, there are also other gems to be found, such as a portrait of a young Louis XV of France and a teenaged Marie Antoinette.
The entire collection dovetails very closely with my own work with the dead. When I walk through cemeteries, I often read the names of the dead aloud, since perhaps no one has spoken their names for many years. Along the same lines, when browsing this gallery of the lost I take a moment to say their names while focusing on their visage, and for just that moment they are remembered. To be brought back into living memory is a great gift for the dead, especially the long-dead. (As an aside, I’m proud of myself that I actually did recognize the names of–and know some of the history for–many of these people.)
I have already borrowed heavily from this site for my Queens board on Pinterest, and those of you who share my interest in kings and queens, or just in European history in general, will gain a lot from browsing this collection. There are thousands of images, so you may want to start from the sets page, which breaks things down by country, family, etc.