You’ve heard the adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and you know that it holds true to a lot of different things we come across every single day in life.

You can always say it when someone asks your opinion about a person, a car, a movie, a house, a wristwatch, a phone, a pair of shoes, and just about everything else, especially when you don’t seem to agree with the opinions of others about the aesthetic aspect of something.

The adage dates back to 3rd century Greek with several different variations in various literary works. One of the earliest records of its current modern form familiar to us all today appeared in 1878 novel titled “Molly Bawn” written by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (The Duchess).

It was just about the middle of Victorian Era, and apparently the adage also applies to some old photographs captured during the same time period.

We understand there was no modern camera back then, let alone post-editing.

We can only imagine that a simple thing like “posing” for a photo shoot was not really a big deal either.

People of those era had many other more important things in their mind of course, so posing would the last thing they had to worry about. That probably was the reason why these Victorian portraits of kids look eerie by today’s standards.

Here are 10 eerie victorian portraits of kids.

10 Creepy Masked Kids

You may think that Halloween started in the US, but that is incorrect. The true origin of Halloween can be traced back to the Celts, who long ago lived across the lands now known as Britain.

Judging from the photo here, it did appear that children (and perhaps adults as well) took the festival quite seriously and therefore they tried to look as unpleasant and scary as possible.

They believed that on the night of October 31 every year, the dead would return from the grave and visit the mortal world. Large bonfires were lit in villages to ward off all evil spirits that might be at large during the night.

In addition to making massive bonfire for lighting, people also thought to disguise themselves as ghosts. Because children would be easy targets, many of them wore seriously creepy costumes.

In the Victorian era, Halloween was no time for sexy bunny or dressing-up like comic characters; you had to appear like the dead to be on the safe side, at least until the night passed. They had pumpkins, but they managed to carve something frighteningly eerie out of the otherwise innocent fruits.

9 Eerie Little Girl

A dressed-up little girl sitting on her own is not particularly a peculiar photography object. You see hundreds (if not thousands) of the same picture on Instagram and Facebook. You probably have many of them on your phone too, because your daughter is just too cute not to be photographed every day.

Some parents even help choosing the costumes, capture some photos, and brag about how beautiful their daughters are on social media. In case you are that kind of parent, please try to always make your daughter smile for the camera.

This Victorian kid portrait is nothing compared to the previous one discussed, at least in the eeriness department. As a matter of fact, this particular photograph has all the potential to be considered collectible, because it appears elegant, refined, and unique on its own.

More importantly, not every day you will find a century old photograph without any major issue from technical standpoint. What makes this portrait interesting and bewildering at the same time is the facial expression. Look closer, and you will realize the expression is almost reminiscence of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

8 Two Children Drinking Tea In Creepy White Dresses

The term “afternoon tea” is mostly associated with the customary meal time served several hours after lunch break in England or Britain in general, Also, there is nothing strange about people having a fun time together accompanied by quality beverage and some sandwiches along with other delicacies.

Of course in Victorian era, many things did not seem as simple as it might sound. Afternoon tea was a hardly a humble affair back then; nor is it today.

It was always a fancy occasion for the wives of noblemen, so you could expect to see nothing less than crust-free finger sandwiches, macaroons, dainty scones, cakes, and all other tempting nibbles prepared specially for the dukes and duchesses.

Afternoon tea was a profoundly complex affair for the upper society. It wouldn’t be so strange for many people to appear as if they belonged to the same class and lived as one of those revered members of the royal family.

This portrait of two little girls in white dresses having an afternoon tea probably was admirable a century ago. The parents were most likely quite wealthy as well. But today this image looks like a perfect material for the next horror movie marketing poster.

7 Little Baby Staring Into Our Soul

When it comes to clothing, we generally are confined by modern principles and norms that define gender. We have different types of fashion accessories for men and women even if the articles themselves are made by the same brand.

One of the easiest examples is wristwatch; a man wears a bigger-sized wristwatch, while a woman often chooses the smaller version of the same thing, although both feature the same colors and other details. A man typically wears a suit and a pair of pants, while a woman dresses-up in gowns.

If you were a small boy in the 19th century, however, you could end up wearing a dress and that wouldn’t be so weird in any way. It was in fact common practice for little boys and girls to wear dresses.

In this picture, there is no way to tell if the kid was actually a boy or a girl. What makes the portrait a little bit eerie to inspect closely is the look of the kid’s eyes. The stare is so intense, and it does not even focus on viewer’s eyes. The kid seems to see something bewildering behind your shoulder, and then you realize you are all alone in the room.

6 Creepy Children Covered In Soot After Working In The Mines

It was nothing unusual for little children to engage in various works. Many, if not most, children from the lower classes during the very beginning of Industrial Revolution were hired as laborers in coal mines.

This is not to say that the start of Industrial Revolution led to the issue with child labors, because children in the Victorian era had already been used to the idea of working (as farmers) even before steam engine was even invented.

In fact a notable characteristic of Industrial Revolution was a large-scale transition from agricultural economy to manufactured goods. Bear in mind that there was no regulation regarding minimum age to work.

These boys in the portrait were certainly underage for any kind of employment; they look tired and annoyed, but they didn’t have better choices back then.

Today no kid younger than 14 is allowed to be employed legally anywhere in the world. This portrait of several young boys with their faces covered in soot will create a rage in today’s world. Once the portrait appears online, the Internet will break just from the number of comments and people trying to organize donations.

5 The Tragedy Of Children's Lives During The Victorian Era

Scarlet fever – sometimes referred to as scarlatina – is an infectious disease that spreads from person to person. Typical symptoms include red bumpy rash, which starts like sunburn but then grows to cover the entire body. Every person of any age can get infected, but children aged between 5 and 15 are the most vulnerable.

More often than not, the infection spreads at school among classmates. Infection starts when a person is directly exposed to droplets emitted when an already infected individual sneezes or coughs. You can also get infected by touching a glass or any other item where the droplets have landed.

It is a treatable curable disease now. However during the Victorian era, scarlet fever was feared as it was the leading cause of infant deaths in the early 20th century. This portrait was perhaps a normal sighting in Victorian era. It shows a little girl holding a sign to let everyone know that her brother suffered from scarlet fever. It is heartbreaking now as it must have been a century ago.

4 Most Victorian Children Lived In Poverty

When someone mentions “Victorian era,” one of the first things that comes to mind is Industrial Revolution, and then we immediately think that the economy underwent steady improvement for most.

It was not the whole story, however; although the overall trend was going toward less precarious life, there were still some decades of poverty. The British economy expanded to the point where Britain became the richest country in the world during the earliest phase of Industrial Revolution, but many people still lived in harsh conditions.

Many workers were referred to as “the hungry forties” due to the bad time in the 1840s. By an estimate, there were 30,000 homeless, poorly-fed, and filthy children in the streets of London in 1848. Some were employed at early age just to survive.

The portrait pictured how even in difficult times children during the Victorian era were so resilient, and they actually managed to still find ways to enjoy themselves with friends. It appeared to be a rather quiet day, so they decided to enjoy the time playing beside the street in front of what looked like a shop.

3 The Disturbing Reality Of Victorian Children's Existence

There did not seem to be an important distinction between children and adults, at least at work. Children perhaps had to handle a slightly less demanding manual labors, although it would also come with smaller wage.

When there was no distinction applied in terms of employment, the same issue was apparent in many other aspects of life too for example smoking. It is saddening to see children smoking; their faces looked serious, and far from what we can consider carefree expression.

In some countries even in today’s modern world, children still have easy access to cigarettes. The sellers have no obligation to check for IDs, or report any purchase by a minor to the authority. As long as they make money, it does not matter who buys the items.

Whether or not children could legally smoke during the Victorian era, the portrait gives a glimpse of how indifferent the society was to children’s welfare.

The boys looked like they were forced to live as adults at early age, meaning they missed an entire opportunity to enjoy life as children. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to say that they probably skipped school altogether so that they could work.

2 Four Terrified-Looking Nigerian Children

It is not clear whether the portrait pictured slavery or something else entirely different. It could be a picture of a Scottish woman who adopted children from other countries, an orphanage caregiver with several kids under her protection, a personal travelling or journalism photo, etc. Without any clear message to provide context, it could be a picture of any imaginable subject matter.

One thing is certain; the children looked depressed, while the woman appeared to be smiling with a little bit of anger in her facial expression. These kids were all Nigerian, and the adult was likely of European origin, judging by the small caption underneath the portrait.

The smallest kid on the portrait seemed to just barely out of infancy. It is a rare photo of African children with a European woman from the 19th century. It was a century-old photograph, maybe older, so it is almost impossible to look for related accurate references. It all depends on your own interpretation; depending on how you see the picture, it could be terrifying, heartwarming, or anything else in between.

1 Mysterious Woman With Baby

Who and where they were remain unclear. There is no clue about what they were doing either. Normally a portrait of a mother and her child is nothing out of the ordinary, and most likely a pleasing photograph to see. You see a lot of such pictures these days on social media.

Sometimes mother and daughter or son are having great time in a restaurant, car, or in a room full of toys. They do something pleasant, enjoyable, and basically any activity that makes the viewer a little bit jealous in fact because they look so happy in the portrait.

On the other hand, this portrait was weird for several things. First, the woman was smiling mysteriously to the photograph. Second, the child seemed to be confused about what was happening; the look on the child’s eyes was deep and eerie. Third, there was a hand that appeared to push the child closer to the woman.

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