The Capuchin monastery, Palermo, Sicily, c 1925.


The Capuchin monastery, Palermo, Sicily, c 1925.
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm


A snapshot photograph of mummies in the catacombs of the Capuchin monastery at Palermo, Sicily, taken by an unknown photographer in about 1925. The monastery was built about 1533. Shortly afterwards, the Capuchin monks began the practice of mummifying and embalming the dead bodies of Palermo's nobility. The last mummy was prepared in the 1920s. The mummies were produced through a natural process of mummification. After embalming, the corpses were displayed along the walls of the Catacombs, dressed in their finest clothes. Originally a shooting term, the word 'snapshot' was first linked with photography in the late 1850s, when it was used to describe a photograph taken with a brief exposure. Over time, snapshot came to mean any amateur photograph taken with a simple camera. The origins of popular photography can be traced back to George Eastman's [1854-1932] introduction of the first Kodak camera in 1888. Snapshots are informal, personal records of everyday life and experiences.

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© Kodak Collection / National Science & Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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