Sunday, 1 December 2013

Death mask of Robespierre




Musée Carnavalet
Isn't it great?  I came across this completely deranged image in an e-version of an old French book Behind the scenes in the Terror by Hector Fleischmann ( English version 1914). There is no further comment or explanation.
Hutton Collection


Fleischmann is still regularly acknowledged as author of the most detailed study of Robespierre death masks, but frustratingly his little monograph is unobtainable, apart from a few snippets on Google Books. Apparently he was a sceptic:  "Many death masks of Robespierre exist, all false, reconstituted after the fact from portraits", summarises Antoine de Baecque, (p.167).   

It is surprisingly difficult to pin down what  Robespierre "death masks" actually existed.  Vivant Denon once owned one. The only two examples documented on the internet are in the Hutton Collection and a bronze in the Musée Carnavalet, both copies from Madame Tussaud's original mould. There is no clear  provenance accessible in either case.

References

Hector Fleischmann, Behind the scenes in 
the Terror (1914), plate.p.128. http://archive.org/stream/
behindscenesinte00fleiuoft#page/128/mode/2up

_______,  Le masque mortuaire de Robespierre. Documents nouveaux pour servir d’intelligence et de conclusion à une polémique historique..., Paris, E. Leroux (1911) 26 p.
.http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/
Le_masque_mortuaire_de_Robespierre.html?id=7BI7AQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y

Hutton collection: Death mask, from the original in Tussaud Gallery, London.
http://library.princeton.edu/libraries/
firestone/rbsc/aids/C0770/ex28.jpg

 Portraits in plaster from the collection of Laurence Hutton (1894) p.75
http://archive.org/stream/portraitsinplas02huttgoog#page/n99/mode/2up


 
Antoine de Baecque, Glory and terror : seven deaths under the French Revolution (2001)[Relevant passages are available in the preview on Amazon or Google Books].Reproduction of the Carnavalet head , p.144.

See also the discussion:  http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/53118.html

1 comment:

  1. What a coward he was...trying to escape the Guillotine by shooting himself. He messed it up but good and suffered for 3 days with a horribly smashed jaw until it was his turn on the scaffold, lol!

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