A Good 20thC Plaster Death Mask of a Bearded Gentleman

Origin: Probably English
Period: Mid 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1940-60
Height: 10.75”
Depth: 4”
Width: 5.5” (at extremities)

The life size thick heavy set plaster moulded death mask, well cast of a bearded gentleman, showing him in the serenity of passing, and of slender proportions and clean lines, surviving from the middle of the twentieth century and probably of English origin.

In good original condition the mask remains in one piece without damage. It does not suffer from any chips or cracks and as such, thankfully, is presented in very good overall order. There are some light tarnish marks here and there and wear to the extremities.

This well detailed mask shows a bearded gentleman of relatively young age, probably 30-40, of probably rather slender and tall build, his beard quite thick, with some warts showing to his skin. The piece isn’t hollowed out to the rear and is narrow and rather long.

Death masks are an impression or cast of the face of a deceased person, usually made by oiling the skin and taking a plaster cast of the features, and are the most haunting mementos of the deceased. They have been in existence since the time of Tutankhamun, whose solid gold burial mask is an object of extreme beauty and superstition. Such masks could be used either in a funerary effigy or as a model for a posthumous portrait. It was important that a death mask was made as soon as possible after death so that the character of the deceased was captured before the features started to fall.

We had not come across a death mask of a bearded gentleman before until now; scarce.