A 19th Century Spiritualist Artist Possessed by Ghosts

From the Keith De Lellis Gallery.

Cyriaque Lamar has a short piece at io9 about Spiritualist artist Georgianna Houghton, who claimed her works were the result of her possession by ghosts.

Lamar links to a great blog post by John Ptak, who acquired one of Houghton’s gallery catalogs from an 1871 show. The Keith De Llelis Gallery has an online collection of Houghton’s spirit photography. Here’s Ptak, quoted by io9:

She writes in the very first paragraph of her catalog’s introduction, “the execution of the Drawings my hand has been entirely guided by Spirits, no idea being formed in my own mind as to what was going to be produced…” She explains that the spirits were definitely those of dead people, and after having heard of such possibilities of communication as early as 1859 set out to “obtain mediumship” by holding hands with her mother at a small table for some months on end waiting for contact—which of course she says happened. Sundays worked best, “as we should then be less disturbed by evil influences.”

[io9 Link.]

[Ptak Science Books Link.]

Spirit photography was a reasonably common Victorian and Edwardian obsession. Just about everyone involved in the Spiritualist movement in any way got involved with it once photography became commonplace (among them Harry Houdini, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), but I’ve never heard of Miss Houghton before.

People are, of course, still doing it, with digital photos being frequent pieces of evidence in ghost hunting. In fact, last year I saw a presentation at the Sacramento Public Library by Sacramento paranormal investigators Shannon McCabe and Paul Dale Roberts, from Haunted and Paranormal Investigators, Inc, which included quite a few (possible, or claimed possible, or suggested possible) spirit photographs (and some audio recordings).

People are still said to be doing channeled paintings, too, and you can judge the veracity of their claims for yourself.

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