death mask

death mask
a cast taken of a person's face after death. Cf. life mask.
[1875-80]

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 a wax or plaster cast of a mold taken from the face of a dead individual. Death masks are true portraits, although changes are occasionally made in the eyes of the mask to make it appear as though the subject were alive. From the time of ancient Egypt they have served as aids to portrait sculptors, and for the last few centuries they have been kept as mementos of the dead.

      Since the 13th century, death masks have aided the sculptors of tomb effigies, but in medieval France and England actual death masks were used for the royal funeral effigies that lay in state. Only English examples exist, however; those in France were destroyed during the French Revolution. The mask of Henry VII is probably the finest in existence, and that of Edward III is the earliest European example; the latter records the facial distortion due to his fatal stroke. Other well-known masks are those of Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I).

      In contrast to death masks, life masks are made from molds taken from living faces. The features of such persons as Henry Clay and James Madison have been preserved in life masks.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Death mask — Mask Mask (m[.a]sk), n. [F. masque, LL. masca, mascha, mascus; cf. Sp. & Pg. m[ a]scara, It. maschera; all fr. Ar. maskharat buffoon, fool, pleasantry, anything ridiculous or mirthful, fr. sakhira to ridicule, to laugh at. Cf. {Masque},… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • death mask — death masks also death mask N COUNT A death mask is a model of someone s face, which is made from a mould that was taken of their face soon after they died …   English dictionary

  • death mask — death′ mask n. a cast taken of a person s face after death • Etymology: 1875–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • death mask — n. a cast of a person s face taken soon after death …   English World dictionary

  • death mask — n a model of a dead person s face, made by covering their face with a soft substance and letting it become hard …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Death mask — For the Saint Seiya character, see Cancer Deathmask. For the episode of the television series Rome, see Death Mask (Rome). Death mask of Samuel F.B. Morse In Western cultures a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following …   Wikipedia

  • death mask — noun a cast taken from the face of a dead person • Hypernyms: ↑cast, ↑casting * * * noun : a cast taken from the face of a dead person * * * a cast taken of a person s face after death. Cf. life mask. [1875 80] * * * death mask noun A plaster… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Death Mask —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différentes œuvres portant le même titre. Death Mask peut désigner : Death Mask, un film réalisé en 1984 par Richard Friedman Death Mask, un film réalisé en 1998 par Steve Latshaw Death Mask, un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • death-mask — see death mask …   English dictionary

  • death mask — /ˈdɛθ mask/ (say deth mahsk) noun a cast of a person s face taken after death …   Australian-English dictionary

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