Since the invention of photography, images of the famous and infamous have enchanted the viewing public. A visual memorial of a high-profile celebrity or historical figure always proves engrossing – and what's more fascinating than seeing some of the last photos of historical figures? They bring the past to life in a way that text alone simply can't match.
Some of these photographs are absolutely chilling: the last photo of Hitler, for instance – it's dated just days before he took his life. A final image of Diana, Princess of Wales shows her hiding from the camera in the backseat of her car shortly before her final accident. And then there are the last photos of presidents; Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt all appeared on film shortly before passing away.
While the dates of some of these photos are dubious, these last – or near last – photographs of historical figures capture fleeting moments in time, from the famous to the seemingly insignificant.
Nikola Tesla, 1943
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. ...more on Wikipedia
Age: Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)
Mark Twain, April 1910
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the latter often called "the Great American Novel". Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother, Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his singular lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia ...more on Wikipedia
Age: Dec. at 75 (1835-1910)
Albert Einstein, Princeton, NJ, March 1955
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. Einstein's work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. Einstein is best known in popular culture for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc². He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "services to theoretical physics", in particular his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory. Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic ...more on Wikipedia
Age: Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
Ulysses S. Grant, June 27, 1885
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States. As Commanding General, Grant worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. He implemented Congressional Reconstruction, often at odds with Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson. ...more on Wikipedia
Age: Dec. at 63 (1822-1885)