A Painted Tintype

Large, hand painted tintype of a child, measuring 8.5″ x 6.5″. This style of “folk art” tintype was most popular from the mid-1860s and 1870s. After a tintype photograph was made, an artist would use oil paints and watercolors to paint over the image, which was then typically placed in a wall frame. The whole process was a relatively inexpensive way, especially compared to a traditional painted portrait, of obtaining a framed, colored portrait of a family member.

I believe the tintype shown here is a post mortem portrait – note the flower in the child’s hand, the way the head is resting back against the chair, and how the eyes are not looking at the photographer.. in fact, while there are many post mortem photos of deceased people with their eyes open, I believe that here, the artist probably painted open eyes over closed, or partially closed eyelids.

Full-plate, painted post mortem tintypes are relatively rare, but there are a few examples in The Thanatos Archive collection. Log in or create a free account, then type in “painted and tintype” in the search box to see a few of our examples.