The fascination with retaining a person's face after death is one of the creepiest and coolest traditions in human history. The outcome is a " death mask " , which is a cast of a person's face done after they have died. The cast is often produced of wax, clay, or plaster, and the technique has been used for millennia. To remember the dead, several " death masks " were worn. " death masks " are still used today to restore the faces of long-lost historical individuals. They're also useful for determining what diseases or conditions may have caused their deaths.
With such historic faces being kept, there has been a lot of debate about whether or not the masks are genuine.
10: Famous death masks "John Dillinger"
Since John Dillinger was shot outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago, rumours have swirled regarding his death. Every aspect has been scrutinised (from the night he was shot to the events surrounding his funeral) in order to decide whether Dillinger committed the greatest robbery of all time. The deceased man, according to eyewitnesses, had brown eyes, whereas Dillinger's were grey.
When it was revealed that his father and sister did not instantly recognise the body on the slab as John Dillinger, more speculation arose. One flaw in the argument is that John Dillinger had multiple plastic surgery previous to his death in order to make himself less visible in public. For identifying purposes, his fingerprints were changed or completely deleted.
Naturally, this raised questions about whether or not the man who was shot down was the known criminal. The man was popularly assumed to be John Dillinger, and his " death mask " provides a sight of the visage that sparked so much debate.Whether it was the result of plastic surgery or not, it bears a striking similarity to a gangster and has become a symbol for Prohibition and the end of the era when tommy gun–wielding criminals took control.
Is it true? There's no denying that the " death mask " on exhibit is genuine and has been verified. The question is whether the man who was shot down was really John Dillinger. Both the corpse and the mask appear to correspond to Public Enemy Number One, but conspiracy theorists have a strong case.
9: Famous female death masks "Mary", Queen Of Scots
Queen Elizabeth I ordered the treasonous execution of her relative Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587. After three excruciating hits, she was beheaded. A " death mask " was made shortly after her beheading, as was customary. In the United Kingdom, there are two known reproductions of her mask—four were allegedly made—as well as one at Falkland Palace, which is based on her effigy at Westminster Abbey.
Since it has been in the Hamilton family for almost 250 years, the Lennoxlove mask is modest and usually acknowledged as the original mask. The Hamilton family also has Mary's jewels in addition to the mask, which is further evidence.
Dr. Charles Hepburn discovered the second mask near Peterborough, where Mary was initially buried. This mask is hand-painted and looks nothing like the Lennoxlove knockoff. It is currently on exhibit in a Mary-themed museum in Jedburgh, where it is thought she stayed after becoming unwell.
The authenticity of the mask is frequently questioned because the characteristics do not match those of the Lennoxlove mask or many of Mary's images. As a result, both are regarded as "the real deal" and are displayed as such.
Is it true? The " death mask " at Lennoxlove is most likely authentic, but there's no way of knowing for sure. According to the documentation, the mask was produced immediately after Mary's execution, albeit the eyelashes were added afterwards. Let's just say a lot of artistic liberties were used in the construction of the brilliantly painted wax head in Jedburgh, if it is even of Mary at all.
8: Famous death masks "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart"
Since the 18th century, Mozart's death has been shrouded in mystery. The composer's " death mask " has become a legend in its own right. Count Joseph Deym von Stritetz is said to have designed the mask shortly after Mozart's death. It was kept in his gallery when the Count died, and his widow kept it there until her death in 1821, when the mask vanished completely. For the next 126 years, there were many contradicting accounts about the mask's fate. According to some accounts, it was shattered by Mozart's wife, while others claim it was accidently damaged by an admirer.
Then, in 1947, a bronze version of the mask was unearthed in an antique shop, likely a copy of the original cast. When owner Willy Kauer noticed the cast's strong similarity to Mozart, he contacted the Austrian Ministry of Education a year later to check about the mask's legitimacy. The tests were deemed inconclusive since they were unable to uncover more than a few similarities between Mozart's portraits and the mask.
In 1956, the Mozarteum held another investigation of the mask, this time focusing on chemical testing to determine the mask's age. The mask is thought to have been made between 1830 and 1869. The examinations were eventually inconclusive once more, leaving the mask's mystery unsolved. The mask was then given to Dr. Gunther Duda, who swears the mask is Mozart, but its current location is unknown.
Is it true? Even if the mask does exist somewhere in the globe today, the chances are it's not real. Almost every artefact associated with Mozart's death appears to be a forgery or steeped in mystery. Do you recall the storey about his alleged skull? Teeth from his alleged cranium were forensically tested and compared to thigh bones from the Mozart family cemetery in Vienna's St. Mark's Cemetery. However, DNA testing revealed that none of these bones were connected, and the legitimacy of the skull could not be established.
7: Famous death masks "Dante Alighieri"
In the Palazzo Vecchio, there is an object resting alone in glass between the Apartments of Eleanor and the Halls of Priors. Perhaps that thing is Dante Alighieri's " death mask " . The mask (also known as the Kirkup mask) has been said to be the poet's true visage cast directly from his face after his death for centuries. Recent research has revealed that the mask was most likely produced in 1483 by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. It's been 162 years since Dante died.
Furthermore, the mask is thought to be a replica of a lost effigy from Dante's tomb in Ravenna. In 1911, the contentious mask was donated to the Palazzo Vecchio, where it is still on display to commemorate his contributions to Florence. In 2007, Italian scientists reconstructed Dante's visage using calculations done on Dante's skull by Professor Fabio Frassetto in 1921, rather than the Kirkup mask. Fressetto is thought to have broken into Dante's crypt unlawfully to remove the skull, take measurements, and make a plaster cast.
Is it true? The Kirkup mask has been determined not to be the iconic poet's " death mask " . It's more than likely only a close resemblance created many years after his death. In terms of the reconstruction, it's unclear whether it's the real Dante's face, as the bones haven't been definitively proven to be his.
6: Famous death masks "Marie Antoinette"
At the height of the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud was hired to build a mask of more than only Robespierre. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette possessed two of the heads that made her famous. She was allegedly forced to produce a cast of the slain kings' heads shortly after they were executed by guillotine.
Marie Antoinette's wax " death mask " is still on display at Madame Tussauds in London. The issue of authenticity isn't much of a discussion because it's well known that Marie Tussaud took the head cast of Marie Antoinette. The wax mask is all that's left of the dead queen, which has sparked debate. There is no documentation of a plaster or clay cast from which the wax head was formed, and no duplicates of the original are known to survive, with the exception of the wax museum.
Even some viewers have reservations about the original. Tussaud appears to have taken some artistic licence when putting the ears to the face. Because it's difficult to add external elements to a wax mask without cracking it, this is a typical method. Despite this, it is the only known " death mask " of Marie Antoinette that still exists today.
Is it true? If Madame Tussauds was able to obtain the real guillotine that decapitated Marie Antoinette, it's logical to conclude that the wax " death mask " is equally authentic. The wax head at the London exhibit has always been commonly assumed to be that of the executed Queen of France.
5: Famous death masks "Heinrich Himmler"
Heinrich Himmler, a Nazi Party leader, committed himself on May 23, 1945, by biting into a cyanide tablet in order to avoid being charged with a war crime. British intelligence officials manufactured two " death mask " s as proof of his death after he died.
One mask had a horrible and deformed visage, while the other looked calm and tranquil. The twisted mask's fate is unknown, but the second mask is currently on exhibit at London's Imperial War Museum. Himmler's body was buried in an unmarked grave whose location remains unclear to this day.As a result, many conspiracy theorists raced to conclusions about the mask on display's validity and the fate of the original mask. Because of the mask's remarkable likeness to Himmler, it is often assumed to be a cast of his face.
Is it true? The " death mask " appears to belong to Himmler without a doubt. Because the whereabouts of his remains are inexplicably unknown, conspiracy theorists try to claim differently, but in this case, it's safe to say the cast is of the slain Reichsfuhrer.
4: Famous death masks "Agamemnon"
Heinrich Schliemann, a German archaeologist, uncovered an old cemetery site in Mycenae in 1876. The find was amazing enough, but as he got to the bottom of the burial shaft, he found that five of the victims had gold " death mask " s on them. One mask stood out from the rest because of its three-dimensional design and meticulous attention to detail on the features.
Schliemann was certain he had located the tomb and body of Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek soldiers during The Iliad's Siege of Troy. He continued to back up his assertion by pointing out that the other guys in the burial site had weapons rather than masks, indicating that they were fighters.
Furthermore, the complex gold mask denoted a high level of wealth, which corresponded to Agamemnon's storey. Many critics question the mask's veracity, and it appears that they have strong proof to back up their allegations. Archaeologists have conducted significant research on the mask and believe it was constructed between 1550 and 1500 B.C., which is earlier than Agamemnon's lifetime.
Furthermore, Schliemann was known for polluting his own digs by placing artefacts at the dig site for his own profit. Whatever happened to the mask or who it belongs to, it is now on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece.
Is it true? The Mask of Agamemnon is unmistakably an old item and a " death mask " from some long-forgotten legend. Is this Agamemnon's face? Although science says no, it was entertaining to consider while it lasted.
3: Famous death masks "Napoleon Bonaparte"
The origins of Napoleon Bonaparte's " death mask " are shrouded in mystery. Napoleon died on the island of St. Helena on May 5, 1821, at the age of 51. That much is undeniably true. Dr. Francis Burton created the first cast for Napoleon's " death mask " two days after his death, with Dr. Antommarchi presiding. This cast would be the ancestor of the three others known to exist.
The mask was allegedly stolen and carried to England by a woman named Madame Bertrand not long after the cast was created. Madame Bertrand did provide Antommarchi a replica of the mask after several years of trying to get it back, which he authenticated from his own memories.
That is the issue, as many people are sceptical about the mask that was returned. The Antommarchi mask, as it was known, was proportionally different from Napoleon's features as depicted in art. Rumors started circulating that the cast included Napoleon's valet, Jean-Baptiste Cipriani.
When rumours emerged that Jean-Baptiste Cipriani's bones were actually deposited in Napoleon's mausoleum at Les Invalides instead of the Emperor's, the storey became even more twisted. The Antommarchi mask is the official mask on exhibit at Napoleon's tomb in Paris, despite claims to the contrary. Other copies of the Emperor's " death mask " s have been sold and resold at private auctions all over the world, has landed up in museums, but they all point back to Dr. Antommarchi's original mask's legitimacy.
Is it true? Over the previous two centuries, the four known " death mask " s of Napoleon Bonaparte have been the topic of debate, but it appears that the agreement is that they are most likely from the face of the infamous Emperor, not Jean-Baptiste, as many conspiracy theorists believe. There's no way to know for sure, and the mystery will almost certainly remain for many years.
2: Famous death masks "William Shakespeare"
In 1842, a ragpicker's shop in Germany discovered a mask that bore an eerie resemblance to William Shakespeare. The year 1616—the year of Shakespeare's death—was scratched into the plaster by chance, adding to the mystery. Since its discovery, the mask has been studied and reanalyzed in an attempt to determine whether or not it is, in fact, Shakespeare's face. Six separate pictures, his burial bust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the Davenant bust in London are the only pieces of evidence available to scholars and forensic scientists.
Many studies have been conducted by superimposing all of the components of the busts onto the portraits and masks, and while there are obvious parallels in the forehead and nose form, the evidence for authenticity was not discovered until experts examined the eyes.
Professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel of the University of Mainz was able to find the identical apparent bulge on Shakespeare's left eyelid on the " death mask " , the Chandos and Flower portraits, and the Davenant bust, thanks to modern forensic investigations. Shakespeare may have had a rare cancer called Mikulicz's syndrome, as evidenced by the tumour on his eyelid and swelling in his nasal corner.
Many art historians attacked Hammerschmidt-work Hummel's because the Flower portrait and Davenant bust are commonly dated to the mid-nineteenth century, many hundred years after Shakespeare's death. The Chandos portrait is nearly surely a 19th-century fabrication, while the Flower portrait is almost certainly a 19th-century forgery, and the Davenant bust is very certainly also from the 19th century. Despite all of the evidence pointing to the " death mask's " legitimacy, many experts still believe the cast is a hoax.
Is it true? It is possible that we will never know. The legitimacy of the Bard's " death mask " , like many other aspects of his life, is unknown.
1: Famous death masks "Maximilien Robespierre"
On July 28, 1794, at the age of 36, Maximilien Robespierre was sentenced to death by guillotine at the height of France's Reign of Terror. Marie Tussaud was given the task of creating " death mask " s for the famed heads who rolled during the French Revolution, and Robespierre was at the top of the list. The genuine wax " death mask " of Robespierre may be found at Madame Tussauds in London, although there are a few duplicates at the Granet Museum in Aix-en-Provence and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
When a horrific facial reconstruction was performed in 2013, the mask's legitimacy was called into question. Many deformities and apparent scars were visible on the face, which corresponded to descriptions of Robespierre's characteristics and the illnesses he may have suffered from. Pox scars and infections, nosebleeds, visual impairment, jaundice, asthenia, and twitching of the eyes and mouth are among the symptoms. He may have had sarcoidosis, an uncommon autoimmune condition, according to his diagnosis.
Because the recreated face and symptoms appeared to match, most people assumed the mask and the resulting face belonged to Robespierre. Some historians believe Madame Tussaud lied about the mask's authenticity to either promote her art or avoid being sentenced to the guillotine.
Furthermore, the reconstructed face cannot be that of Robespierre because it differs significantly from his portraits and because his jaw was allegedly shot to bits the day before his execution in an attempted suicide attempt.
Is it true? We can't be sure if the mask is real because it's totally based on Madame Tussaud's word. It's most likely not real, because his damaged jaw would have been visible in the original mask if it had been his real face. One thing is certain: whoever's face the reconstructed mask is made from has one of history's scariest looks.