During the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, it was customary to cast a death mask of a great leader who had recently died.A mixture of wax or plaster was carefully placed over Napoleon's face and removed after the form had hardened. From this impression, subsequent copies were cast. Much mystery and controversy surrounds the origins and whereabouts of the most original cast moulds. There are only four genuine bronze death masks known to exist.
A death mask is a likeness of a person's face following death, often made by taking a cast or impression directly from the corpse. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. Such casts obviate idealised representations by revealing the actual features. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold.
Napoleon's original death mask was created on 7 May 1821,a day and a half after the former emperor died on the island of St. Helena at age 51. Surrounding his deathbed were doctors from France and the United Kingdom. Some historical accounts contend that Dr. François Carlo Antommarchi (one of several doctors who encircled Napoleon's deathbed) cast the original "parent mould", which would later be used to reproduce bronze and additional plaster copies. Other records, however, indicate that Dr. Francis Burton, a surgeon attached to the British Army's Sixty-Sixth Regiment at St. Helena, presided at the emperor's autopsy and during that postmortem procedure cast the original mould. Antommarchi obtained from his British colleagues a secondary plaster mould from Burton's original cast. With that second-generation mould, Antommarchi in France reportedly made further copies of the death mask in plaster as well as in bronze.
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
François Carlo Antommarchi was Napoleon's physician from 1818 to his death in 1821.
Yet another contention regarding the origins of the death mask and its copies is that Madame Bertrand, Napoleon's attendant on St. Helena, allegedly stole part of the original cast, leaving Burton with only the ears and back of the head. The British doctor subsequently sued Bertrand to retrieve the cast, but failed to do so in court. A year later Madame Bertrand gave Antommarchi a copy of the mask, from which he had several copies made. One of those he sent to Lord Burghersh, the British envoy (representative) in Florence, asking him to pass it to the famous sculptor, Antonio Canova. Unfortunately Canova died before he had time to use the mask and instead the piece remained with Burghersh. The National Museums Liverpool version, cast by E. Quesnel, is thought to be a descendant of that mask.
Some people believe that Dr. Antommarchi lived in Cuba for a short period of time and contracted yellow fever. While there he lived on his cousin's coffee plantation and became close to General Juan de Moya. Before Dr. Antommarchi died, he made General Moya a death mask from his mould. It is believed that the mask still resides in The Museum in Santiago de Cuba, province of Oriente, where there was a large group of French immigrants that established coffee plantations in the high mountains of the Sierra Maestra.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. The genus Coffea is native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, Indian subcontinent, and Africa. The two most commonly grown are C. arabica and C. robusta. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce the beverage known as coffee.
A plantation is the large-scale estate meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, sisal, oil seeds, oil palms, rubber trees, and fruits. Protectionist policies and natural comparative advantage have sometimes contributed to determining where plantations were located.
New Orleans authorities moved their death mask in 1853. During the tumult that accompanied the Civil War, the mask disappeared. A former city treasurer spotted the mask in 1866 as it was being hauled to the dump in a junk wagon. Rather than return the mask to the city, the treasurer took the mask home and put it on display there. Eventually Napoleon's death mask wound up in the Atlanta home of Captain William Greene Raoul, president of the Mexican National Railroad. Finally, in 1909, Napoleon's death mask made its way back to New Orleans. Captain Raoul read a newspaper article about the missing mask and wrote to the mayor of its whereabouts. In exchange for suitable acknowledgement, Raoul agreed to donate the death mask to New Orleans. The mayor transferred the mask to the Louisiana State Museum that year.
New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.
Atlanta is the capital of, and the most populous city in, the U.S. state of Georgia. With an estimated 2017 population of 486,290, it is also the 38th most-populous city in the United States. The city serves as the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to 5.8 million people and the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Atlanta is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia. A small portion of the city extends eastward into neighboring DeKalb County.
In 1834, Dr. Antommarchi traveled to the United States, visited New Orleans, and presented that city with a bronze copy of the mask. The French doctor also gave a painted plaster copy to a colleague in New Orleans, Dr. Edwin Smith.Following the death of Dr. Smith, the plaster mask was given to the family of Captain Francis Bryan, a resident of St. Louis, Missouri. In 1894, Bryan donated this mask to his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), also known as UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, or simply Carolina is a public research university in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is the flagship of the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. After being chartered in 1789, the university first began enrolling students in 1795, which also allows it to be one of three schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Among the claimants, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only one to have held classes and graduated students as a public university in the eighteenth century.
During its first years in Chapel Hill, Napoleon's plaster face was displayed as a curio on a table in the office of UNC President George T. Winston. The death mask was later transferred to the university library and ultimately found its way to the library's North Carolina Collection. Today, the mask remains in remarkably good condition. The only visible damage to it is a chip above the emperor's upper lip. That damage occurred in 1907, when a janitor at the university overturned the mask while dusting it. On the underside of the mask is the handwritten inscription: "Dr. Edwin B. Smith's head of Nap.n" and "Presented to Dr. Smith by N[ap's] Phys'n. Dr.Ant[tommarchi]." Also written on the bottom of the mask is "Tête d'Armée" ("Head of the Army"), reportedly the last words uttered by Napoleon.
Dr. Antommarchi moved to Cuba in 1838. While there, he lived on his cousin's coffee plantation and became close to General Juan de Moya. Before Dr. Antommarchi died, he made General Moya a death mask from his mould. It is believed that the mask still resides in the Museum in Santiago de Cuba, province of Oriente, where there were many French immigrants who established coffee plantations in the high mountains of the Sierra Maestra.
A bronze death mask is in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery; it was donated by Sir George Grey and is attributed to Antommarchi.
Another death mask formerly owned by John Codman Ropes now resides in the lobby of Boston University's Mugar Library.
Antonio Canova was an Italian Neoclassical sculptor, famous for his marble sculptures. Often regarded as the greatest of the Neoclassical artists, his artwork was inspired by the Baroque and the classical revival, but avoided the melodramatics of the former, and the cold artificiality of the latter.
Bronze is the most popular metal for cast metal sculptures; a cast bronze sculpture is often called simply a "bronze". It can be used for statues, singly or in groups, reliefs, and small statuettes and figurines, as well as bronze elements to be fitted to other objects such as furniture. It is often gilded to give gilt-bronze or ormolu.
Lost-wax casting is the process by which a duplicate metal sculpture is cast from an original sculpture. Intricate works can be achieved by this method.
A plaster cast is a copy made in plaster of another 3-dimensional form. The original from which the cast is taken may be a sculpture, building, a face, a pregnant belly, a fossil or other remains such as fresh or fossilised footprints – particularly in palaeontology.
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Reverend Richard Boys MA (1785–1867) was a Church of England clergyman and author, most notable for his tenure as Chaplain on St. Helena at the time of Napoleon Bonaparte's exile there. A controversial figure during his time there, he also played a part in the mystery surrounding Napoleon's Death Mask.
The Napoleon Museum in Havana, Cuba houses one of the most important collections from the 18th and 19th centuries preserved in the Western hemisphere. The Museum reopened in March 2011 after a three-year restoration by the City Historian’s Office. Napoleon Princess Alix de Foresta, widow of Luis Marie Bonaparte, a descendent of King Jerome, Bonaparte’s younger brother, was especially invited to the island for the opening.
Sphere with Inner Form is a bronze sculpture by English artist Barbara Hepworth, with six castings made in 1963 and two more 1965. It is sometimes interpreted as a child in a pregnant woman's womb, or as a metaphor for the creation of a sculpture.
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Raised Left Hand is a bronze sculpture by Julio González displayed in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, created in 1942, the year of his death. This work of art was created as a plaster cast, and then later cast in bronze. It is unclear if the when or if the artist cast the final sculpture. Other sculptures created within the last months of the artist's life were cast in bronze posthumous. For example, the other monumental sculpture created in this period, Head of theMontserrat, II, was cast in bronze after the artist's death.
Man with the Broken Nose is a sculpture by Auguste Rodin created between 1863 and 1864 and approved by the Salon in 1875. It is considered the first by Rodin in which life is represented over the grace pervading the academic circles and aesthetic of the time.
Oval with Points is a series of enigmatic abstract sculptures by British sculptor Henry Moore, made in plaster and bronze from 1968 to 1970, from a 14-centimetre (5.5 in) maquette in 1968 made in plaster and then cast in bronze, through a 110-centimetre (43 in) working model in 1968–1969 also made plaster and then cast in bronze, to a full-size 332-centimetre (131 in) bronze version cast in 1969.
Locking Piece is a sculpture by Henry Moore. It comprises two interlocking forms holding a third element between them, on a bronze base. It is usually mounted on a separate plinth. The sculpture was created in 1962–1964, and bronze casts were made in 1964–1967.
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