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Napoleon, Nelson and the Knight

Death Mask of Napoleon I

Period:
18th Century
Description:
Napoleon Bonaparte was emperor of France and one of the greatest military leaders in history. 

The mask was presented to Montrose Natural History and Antiquarian Society 18 years after the French emperor’s death in 1821. It has been in the collection of Montrose Museum ever since, although some were sceptical about its authenticity. However, in 2007 the mask was authenticated “beyond doubt” by Dr Robert Prescott of St Andrews University.

 This and other masks like it have been the subject of debate since the first one was made. The original mould is reputed to have been taken shortly after death, by Dr Francesco Antommarchi (1780 - 1838), personal physician and constant companion to Napoleon during the last two years of his life. Another account suggests that it was Napoleon’s English doctor, Francis Burton, who successfully took the original cast.

 The mask shows a scar on the left side of his face. His eyes are closed, lips slightly parted, and his shaven head is tilted backward. It is a hollow-cast plaster copy of the original death mask.

Kindly loaned by Montrose Museum, Angus Council, this is considered to be one of the finest casts from Napoleon’s death mask known to exist.
Materials/Media:
Plaster
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
Montrose Museum
Digital Number:
Montrose Museum
Creation Date:
1821
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council


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