Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Death Masks

Death masks are an unreliable guide to what people looked like when living. I can think of various reasons why this should be so-  reasons physical, reasons metaphysical.  There's this to be said for them, though- that they rarely flatter. For instance I'd not have guessed from his portraits that Beethoven's eyes were so very far apart.  James Dean looks like Brad Pitt, James Joyce looks like James Joyce only more scrunched up- and some are unguessable. Beethoven is a goblin, the Duke of Wellington is a toothless old saint, Cromwell could be any 17th century gent a little the worse for wear- though the warts provide a clue-  and the beatific soul with the enormous grin turns out to be Heinrich Himmler. 
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