The hidden mother

As photography developed in the 1800's it became increasingly common for Victorians to want to get their portrait taken. However the long exposure time meant that the subject(s) would have to stand still for a while so that they didn't appear blurry. This would explain why the Victorians would appeared to have been a very serious and dour looking part of British history. Their portraits may not have reflected their true identity because of the way they had to pose.
Just like in modern times, the Victorians used photographs to document the birth of new additions to their family. Of course it would be impossible to rely on a Victorian baby to stay still long enough to be photographed, so one solution was to hide the baby's mother with a blanket, whilst holding her baby still.

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As can be seen in the family portrait above, this 'hidden mother' technique produced some bizarre scenes. It was often very obvious that the child's mother was covered up. For the sake of a decent family photograph she may as well have been included in the portrait!

Reference
http://www.retronaut.com/2011/10/the-invisible-mother-1800s/