S.E. Barnet, Portrait of a Girl










Details in the photo, such as her rosy cheeks and the flowers in her hair, have been hand-tinted.

Photographer: Unknown. Extent: Ca. 7 x 5 cm. Medium: Tintype.

Ce portrait est vraiment intriguant.

This image was elected by America London based artist SE Barnet from the  Sogn og Fjordane fylkeskommune.  She discovered that this same image had been the subject of much collective fascination about whether the girl in it, a local girl photographed in the 19th century, was alive or dead.  Below is part of the transcripts of these conversations.  This fascination had led to the image being printed on local merchandise, leading to SE’s work for this project “Portrait of a Girl”


Below is an extract from conversation, there is a longer version of this in the hard copy of Kome til deg i Tidende 

Comments and faves

Theo Ulieriu-Rostás, pennylrichardsca, smieglitz, smokey lace, and 171 other people added this photo to their favorites.

okey lace (24 months ago)

This is a real natural beauty !

lauralemur (life is upsidedown right now) (24 months ago)

Superb – her expression appears quite triumphant!

johncurtisrea (22 months ago)

Beautiful image!

ashley1659 [deleted] (17 months ago)

funny and old timey

Piedmont Fossil (15 months ago)

She looks very self-assured with her steady gaze and folded arms.

Lauri Hannus (14 months ago)

I agree! Quite strong, would like to learn her story.

dasa.sandeep (14 months ago)

This looks like a real photo !!!!!!!!!!!!

Ṥ A Ȓ O Ṇ A ,♥’ (12 months ago)

(: رﺭبﺏاﺍنﻥيﻱ†جﺝمﻡاﺍلﻝ

Gary~ (11 months ago)

Fantastic old photograph.

Stitchzilla (11 months ago)

This photograph is a treasure. wish you knew more about her. Lovely.

egbertzen (10 months ago)

Where was she from? I love old stuff like that!

capitan flickr (10 months ago)

Mi zia

RebeccaDauriaPhotography (8 months ago)


cindy1493 (8 months ago)

she might hold her bible , she might hold her head high in her eyes is humble adoration, gods love for plantarinian and simple curiosty that comes alives thrue the years that makes her a child but a grown woman . her charector and the kisses on her cheeks are color for our soul to admire i think simply put we walk thru the gardens of are beloved picking flowers to have for a feast for the guests and shes there

cindy1493 (8 months ago)

i hope thats god enough

pepavega1 (7 months ago)



rodama (6 months ago)

Looks like an actual top model…. amazing image!

@Raquel (6 months ago)

Amazing shot! 🙂

johncurtisrea (6 months ago)

back to visit this fine image again! I thought I faved. oh well, I did now…. some_stuff (5 months ago) omg so old

DubyDub2009 (4 months ago)


lmfinnegan (4 months ago)

I have a feeling this may be postmortem…..thoughts? anyone?

Bojangles78 (3 months ago)

I agree with Imfinnegan. The pose seems slightly unnatural, her right eye seems slightly more closed than the left, and her hand holding her arm doesn’t seem to be closed properly. Even though, she was still a beauty

rodama (3 months ago)

Also there is not tension in the neck muscles.. Dead or alive, she’s pure beauty and this portrait is a fantastic time machine

DubyDub2009 (3 months ago)

Ce portrait est vraiment intriguant.

AdrianMalec (3 months ago)

If this is a postmortem photograph it is a very good one. I’m considering the evidence here: – The pose seeming unnatural: it doesn’t look particularly unnatural to me. The photos required some time to expose and so you had to be still for some time – many poses and expressions look unnatural because the subject had to arrange himself/herself in a ‘stable’ configuration. It was difficult to hold a stable smile for the times required.

– Her hand not closing properly as she holds her arm: try mimicking her pose, there’s nothing unnatural about it.

– One of her eyes being slightly more closed : it may be a natural asymmetry in her face. It as much one of her eyes being slightly closed as it is asymmetry in here eye lids. Look at her earrings and you’ll also note that her head is slightly tilted.

– No tension in her neck muscles: what kind of tension would one expect in this woman? It doesn’t look at all unnatural.

– None of the other photos found in this collection appear to be postmortem photographs.

– There may be an argument for this being a postmortem photo in the arrangement of her hair being possibly consistent with being laid horizontally. However, most postmortem photographs were taken with the subjects being upright or mostly upright (and not alone). Further, her earrings would be falling backward. Never mind the difficulty in arranging the camera in the way required. The subject was most likely seated.

– The brightness of the iris of here eye may seem slightly uncanny, but look at the other photos in the set and you’ll find significantly more uncanny photography.

– The only strong argument toward this being a postmortem photo is how still she must have been for such a sharp photo.

Piedmont Fossil · (3 months ago)

I agree. Having been an avid collector of antique images for nearly 30 years and one who has studied the history of early photography, I have seen many death portraits. Other than babies held in their mother’s arms, most have been of the deceased laid in bed as if asleep. A few have been propped up in a chair, but their eyes are usually closed, and if open they have never looked directly into the camera with such intensity as this one. Based on my experience, there is nothing . . .

Let me repeat that; There is NOTHING here that leads me to assume that this is a postmortem photo. However, I am certain that she would have been horrified to know that someone thought she looked dead!

Photo_History (3 months ago) 

This is indeed a wonderful portrait! Yes, it is an unusually casual pose for a tintype of that period

but she is NOT dead. My current pet peeve is the “They must be dead!” hoards who are infecting the internet. They can find the flimsiest reasons for their certainty. The mere presence of the base of a head rest will convince them that it is a prop “to hold up dead people” or “the eyes are strange”, “or the position is awkward”.

She is indeed a treasure but she is not dead! johncurtisrea (3 months ago) she looks very much alive to me! and has that defiant, crossed arms look

•‿ • (most likely to hold still)….

debcronem (3 months ago)

I agree. I love this portrait because she has such attitude!

pennylrichardsca (2 months ago)

And now she is on an upcycled purse I just made: (see above image)

Maelström Bordelum (2 months ago)


LadyVenere (2 months ago)

I agree


SE Barnet is an American artist living in London.   Her web-site: http://www.sebarnet.net


About tidendeamc

Anne-Marie Creamer is a London based artist/curator. www.amcreamer.net

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