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.


Hector Fleischmann, Behind the scenes in 
the Terror (1914), plate.p.128.

_______,  Le masque mortuaire de Robespierre. Documents nouveaux pour servir d’intelligence et de conclusion à une polémique historique..., Paris, E. Leroux (1911) 26 p.

Hutton collection: Death mask, from the original in Tussaud Gallery, London.

 Portraits in plaster from the collection of Laurence Hutton (1894) p.75

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:

No comments:

Post a Comment