Why People in Old Photographs Never Smiled

#History

Wed, Oct 2nd, 2013 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

On PetaPixel, a fascinating look into the work of Nicholas Jeeves who explains "why people in old paintings and photographs generally don’t have smiles on their faces."

First off, Jeeves dismisses the notion that people of old refused to smile because their teeth were rotting. It wasn’t that people didn’t have bad teeth, as dental hygiene really was awful, but rather that bad teeth were so common that seeing them did not take away from a person’s attractiveness at the time.

So what were some of the real reasons people didn’t smile? Jeeves writes that in addition to the simple fact that nice-looking smiles are difficult to create and capture, one of the main reasons was how smiles were perceived centuries ago.

Although nowadays we think of smiles as being indicative of happiness, humor, and warmth, they apparently had a very different meaning back in the day [...]

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