The Lost Gallery

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.

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8 thoughts on “The Lost Gallery

  1. Thanks for the link! What wonderful images.

    I have a special interest in the Stuart period, so I checked out that gallery first. Many of the images are of women who were mistresses of powerful men (mostly Charles II), and are depicted in various states of deshabillee bordering on “wardrobe malfunction”. These women have such a blazing air of self-confidence, which comes directly to us from them through a period of three and a half centuries. (“Nip slip? You have a problem with that? *I* don’t.”)

    In contrast, are the equally powerful and austere ladies dressed in full widow’s weeds. They have such authority in their faces, and such experience. Really wonderful.

    • Yes, it is a very rich resource, pretty much no matter what period draws you! I’ve already spent hours browsing the images, and I’m sure will spend many more, too.

    • Yes, it is a very rich resource, pretty much no matter what period draws you! I’ve already spent hours browsing the images, and I’m sure will spend many more, too.

    • Yes, it is a very rich resource, pretty much no matter what period draws you! I’ve already spent hours browsing the images, and I’m sure will spend many more, too.

    • I thought I had approved your comment because I replied to it, but I guess not. Sorry about that! The images are all very compelling, and once I start poring through them it’s difficult to stop!

  2. I have a membership at Thanatos.net, which is an archive of Victorian funeral photography, for much the same purpose as you’ve described viewing the Flickr rite. I recommend it, if you can afford the membership fee. These are all ordinary people, many of whose identities are lost to time, and some of the most touching photographs I’ve ever seen are on that site.

    • I just took a look at the previews and the very first one choked me up. I will definitely consider a membership; it would make a good offering to the dead, I think. Thanks for the suggestion!

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