The Most Kissed Face in the World; the Madonna of the Seine

Madonna

Is Beauty a concept that is ephemeral for a moment, or is it eternal? The body of the young female drowning victim was pulled out of the Seine River at the Quai du Louvre in Paris around the late 1880s. The girl child was never identified and no one ever came to claim her; it was assumed she was a suicide as there were no signs of a struggle on her body. However, the serene loveliness of her expression encouraged a pathologist to make a cast death mask of her face. Plaster copies of this death mask went on to decorate the sitting rooms and studios of artists and other fashionable people throughout Europe and North America, becoming the muse for thousands of artworks and literary works.

The Death Mask

L’Inconnue de la Seine means ‘The Unknown Woman of the Seine’ in French, and in America she was known as La Belle Italienne. The death mask inspired so many others with her Mona Lisa smile.

Art

Earrings

 

The death mask as art

This death mask was also used as the basis to Resusci Anne – the CPR dummy that everyone uses to learn first aid techniques. This means this face has been kissed over a million times, by people learning to save lives, including drowning victims. Not a bad way to be remembered.

Resusci Anne

Resusci Anne masks

 

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4 Comments

Filed under Historical Personage, History, Steampunk Aesthetic, Steampunk Themes, Uncategorized

4 responses to “The Most Kissed Face in the World; the Madonna of the Seine

  1. Really fascinating! I didn’t realise I’d been giving mouth-to-mouth to an actual dead person’s death mask, if you see what I mean. Even in death she saves lives. How sureal!

  2. paulmichael

    What an amazing post and an incredible story – thank you for sharing. By golly it needs fictionalising somehow!

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