1500s-1900s: Life / Death Masks

Abraham Lincoln, 1808-1865. Life Mask

Abraham Lincoln, 1808-1865. Life Mask

George Washington, 1732-1799. Life Mask

George Washington, 1732-1799. Life Mask

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850. Life Mask

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850. Life Mask

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834. Death Mask

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834. Death Mask

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797. Death Mask

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797. Death Mask

Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1658. Death Mask

Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1658. Death Mask

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1804-1881. Death Mask

Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1804-1881. Death Mask

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. Death Mask

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. Death Mask

Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Life Mask

Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Life Mask

David Garrick, 1717-1779. Life Mask

David Garrick, 1717-1779. Life Mask

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832. Life Mask

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832. Life Mask

Ulysses S Grant, 1822-1885. Death Mask

Ulysses S Grant, 1822-1885. Death Mask

John Keats, 1795-1821. Life Mask

John Keats, 1795-1821. Life Mask

Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856. Death Mask

Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856. Death Mask

Henry IV, King of France, 1553-1610. Death Mask

Henry IV, King of France, 1553-1610. Death Mask

Jean Paul Marat, 1743-1793. Death Mask

Jean Paul Marat, 1743-1793. Death Mask

Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847. Death Mask

Felix Mendelssohn, 1809-1847. Death Mask

Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727. Death Mask

Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727. Death Mask

Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. Death Mask

Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. Death Mask

Viscount Henry Jon Temple Palmerston, 1784-1865. Death Mask

Viscount Henry Jon Temple Palmerston, 1784-1865. Death Mask

Maximilien Robespierre, 1758-1794. Death Mask

Maximilien Robespierre, 1758-1794. Death Mask

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-1882. Death Mask

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-1882. Death Mask

Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832. Death Mask

Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832. Death Mask

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1751-1816. Death Mask

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1751-1816. Death Mask

Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745 Death Mask

Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745 Death Mask

William Makepeace Thackeray, 1811-1863. Death Mask

William Makepeace Thackeray, 1811-1863. Death Mask

Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910. Death Mask

Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910. Death Mask

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850. Life Mask

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850. Life Mask

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892. Death Mask

Walt Whitman, 1819-1892. Death Mask

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1779-1827. Life Mask

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1779-1827. Life Mask

Robert E Lee, 1807-1870. Life Mask

Robert E Lee, 1807-1870. Life Mask

13 Responses

  1. bessie

    I had no idea so many folks had life and/or death masks. I guess women did not go for getting a casting made of their countenances, or they were simply were not kept?

    Reply
  2. Audra Hedger

    I think the Jean Paul Marat one interests me the most, because he was stabbed in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday at the height of the French Revolution. The interesting part, though, is that the painting by David shows the exact same expression on his face as his death mask captured. Bizarre!

    Reply
  3. Jason

    Some of these would make perfect Halloween masks, because they look pretty scary. William Makepeace Thackeray looks a little bit like Frankenstein..

    Reply
  4. Andrew

    Fascinating, but I have one question regarding Robespierre’s. It’s well known that he shot a good piece of his jaw off in a failed suicide attempt prior to his execution, how were they able to complete the mask?

    Reply
  5. Leeloo

    Some of these look like obvious death masks but other just look like sculptures. Washington, Dante, David Garrick, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe look like sculptures, not masks taken from an actual body. It’s a neat idea though. It’s kind like we get an actual glimpse of them, instead of a view filtered through propaganda, ideology and artistic interepetation.

    Reply
  6. Ness

    Some masks were used as a reference to paintings, I’ve been fascinated by these for eight years when I viewed the Lincoln life mask in person. It’s amazing to think that’s almost exactly what their face looked like so many years ago.

    Reply
  7. aaron

    There is actually a Napolean Bonaparte death mask in the Texas Masonic Grand Lodge in Waco, Tx.

    Reply

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