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The Death Mask

Before The Death Portrait and after the death painting there was the death mask. The death mask was typically a plaster cast of the deceased’s face. The mask was typically used as a effigy or commemorative portrait to recognize the dead at their funeral. To view a death portrait can fill one with a sense of dread at the same time. The awe is knowing that the portrait you look at is as close to seeing the deceased as if they were alive. The dread of course comes from knowing that you are looking at a cast of the recently deceased. The princeton website has an excellent collection of photographs of death and life masks. Some of which the most notable portraits may be viewed below.

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Ben Franklin

Dante Alighieri

Abraham Lincoln

More information:
* Complete list of death masks
* Virtual museum of Death Mask

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