After the invention of the daguerreotype in 1837, its use quickly became widespread. Photographers travelled all America taking pics of people, rich and poor. During the Victorian era it became commonplace to photograph deceased individuals. The pics were called memento mori. They were kept as keepsakes or returned to the family. Deceased individuals were photographed as if asleep or posed with their favorite things. Children and babies were most commonly photographed.
In 1835 Poe married his first cousin, Virginia Clemm. Although the marriage certificate stated that she was 21, she was actually 13. In early 1842, Virginia first showed symptoms of tuberculosis. Her condition deteriorated over the next few years which upset Poe and may have increased his drinking. Despite her decline and eventual death in 1847 at 25, she remained very beautiful. After her death, Poe had the death portrait done in watercolor.
Tomorrow, The Peculiar Demise of Edgar Allan Poe Rita Bay