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 Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette 
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
For what it's worth, I've read maybe 30 (?) biographies of Marie-Antoinette written from the 19th through the 21st Centuries and countless other books dealing with the reign of Louis XVI/M-A, the Revolution, the Restoration, etc. and as far as I can remember, I've never read any work by any reputable historian that mentions that Mme Tussaud made death masks of either Louis XVI or Marie-Antoinette. And, were it true, I would find that very odd, so I'm betting that it's not.

That said, both masks are excellent likenesses, but that wouldn't have been very difficult to do given the profusion of images and busts of the couple that existed then.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. (Ou deux sous.)


Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:26 pm
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Just finished a book by Barbara Levy called "Legacy of Death" - she does talk about Madame Tussaud and the death masks. Levy says Madame Tussaud did Marie Antoinette's death mask and some others who are mentioned by name. It does not say she did Louis XVI's death mask, just that she had , in London, "recreated the death of Louis XVI, with the King lying on the bascule, his head in the lunette, and Charles-Henri Sanson and his aides in attendence." (Pg. 221)


Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:03 pm
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Thanks for the information, really appreciate it! I'm not familiar with the book at all -- did she footnote the passage where she says Tussaud did a death mask of the Queen? That would tell us where she got her information. Knowing whether she's a scholar, historian, etc. would be helpful to us, too.

I did find a review of it online from an unidentified person at LibraryThing, but he writes like an informed reader:

<<Levy's book is a chatty, anecdotal history of the Sanson family, executioners in Paris for seven generations, including the period of the Reign of Terror. While Levy's work is fun and interesting, the research behind it is based entirely on apocryphal memoirs of the Sansons. In other words, these are little more than a collection of urban myths. The real value of the book is in the background information it provides. Levy did a good job on describing the background of executioners and the the conditions they faced.>>

http://www.librarything.com/work/30269/reviews

I think I'll buy the book and check it out. Thanks again for the info!

Tom


Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:34 pm
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
She does regrettably quote the (yes, apocryphal) memoirs of Sanson. But much of the book is demonstrably based on more dependable sources and she gives an extensive bibliography at the end of the book.

Sanson's supposed Memoirs, by the way, might have been co-authored by Balzac, so they're not entirely uninteresting. But hardly a dependable source, no.

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Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:55 pm
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
Its well-documented that Tussaud was commissioned by the Tribunal to make the death masks. The face is covered with a vaseline-type substance (sometimes a fine linen too) and then painted over completely with hot wax. When the wax is cold its lifted off the face and regreased on the inside so fresh wax can be pored into the first mold. When this 2nd mold cools and is lifted out of the first mask you have a fresh and accurate mold of the human face.

I've seen a picture of one mask well-done with appropriate hair, (quite messy), blood and eyelashes--quite realistic. The one above has MA's features but there's some alteration of the hair and its cleaner as a representative of a decapitated head.

I accept this one and know masks have been made since the Greek and Romans as a representation of historical figures. We are fortunate to have these.
Susan


Sat Jul 03, 2010 4:21 am
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
This is a slight change of topic but I have seen a wax doll which was represented as a Tussaud life-size model of the baby Louis XVII when he was a healthy baby probably less than 12 months old. The picture was in a book on MA and by george I can't find it again. I have found a baby doll on the internet reputed to be this wax baby but its not the same one.

Anyone have any info on where to find this picture?
Susan


Sat Jul 03, 2010 4:30 am
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Post Re: Death Masks Of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
For me, this face looks somehow "Italian" and quite different from the one on the paintings...

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Thu May 09, 2013 3:58 pm
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