Napoleon’s Death Mask

Death mask of Napoleon, taken a day and a half after he died on the island of St. Helena at age 51. His eyes are closed, lips slightly parted, and his shaven head is tilted backward, resting on a pillow garnished with a tassel at each corner. Napoleon’s original death mask was created on May 7, 1821. Surrounding his deathbed were doctors from France and Britain.

During the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, it was customary to cast a death mask of a great leader who had recently died. A mixture of wax or plaster was carefully placed over Napoleon’s face and removed after the form had hardened.

From this impression, subsequent copies would be cast. Contrary to some accounts of Napoleon’s death, it was not Dr. Antommarchi who made the original mask or so-called “parent mold”; it was the surgeon Francis Burton of Britain’s Sixty-Sixth Regiment at St. Helena.

Looks better IMHO than any actor ever chosen for a movie representation.

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