IS THIS THE FACE OF ROBESPIERRE???
Striking image from the Picpus Digital Archive
1. A plaster cast belonging to Vivant-Denon.
Fleischmann provides further confirmation that there was indeed a mask in the collection of Dominique Vivant-Denon. Lady Morgan described seeing it in 1817; "the mask of Robespierre, taken from his face, before the lividness of death had effaced any of the traits painted there by his perverse soul" [La France (1817) ii.p.87]. Fleischmann did not consider Lady Morgan to be very reliable, but there was no denying the entry in the 1826 sale catalogue of Vivant-Denon's collection:
No.652 - Plaster - Cast moulded from the face of Robespierre, before his death. Height 9 and a half inches (ie."pouces").
The mask was sold on 26th May 1826 and has not been seen since.
2. Mask belonging to M. Leclercq of Compiègne, who gave a photograph to Fleischmann (c.1911)
Here is the photo. The mask was apparently labelled on the reverse:
"This copy was taken from the original mould which was cast on the face of Robespierre, immediately after he was guillotined, and which belonged to citizen Turbri, composer of music".
The "citizen Turbri" in question may reasonably be identified as the musician François-Louis-Hébert Turbri (1795-1859) but why or how he came by a death mask of Robespierre remains a complete mystery.
3. Mask owned (?in 1911) by M. Léon Moreaux
At this point just how many masks are involved becomes a little confused. Fleischmann mentions one mask belonging to Léon Moreaux and another exhibited in 1889 in the Paris Exposition historique de la Révolution française. According to Buffenoir's Portraits de Robespierre, these two were one and the same. It was also this mask which was reproduced in a catalogue of Revolutionary memorabilia (undated) by Armand Dayot. UnfortunateIy I can't find an accessible copy of this work and M. Dayot, an ardent robespierriste, refused to divulge his sources to Fleischmann.
4. Mask owned (?in 1911) by M. Gabriel Thomas
|From the LIFE magazine |
hosted by Google
|Death mask from the Musée |
Granet, said to from
Madame Tussaud's orignal.
It seems that additional information just raises additional questions? .
How many masks were there? The photos seem to depict two different examples but it is difficult to be certain. Are either of them the mask that belonged to Vivant-Denon? Where does the composer Turbri fit in? Do they represent a different death (or life) mask from that in Madame Tussaud's? Above all where are they now???
Hector Fleischmann, "Le masque mortuaire de Robespierre", Annales révolutionnaires T. 4, No. 5 (Octobre-Décembre 1911), pp. 601-625