There are only 4 genuine bronze death masks of Napoleon and Louisiana owns one of them

Anita Durairaj

The face of Napoleon Bonaparte, the most famous French emperor (ruler from 1805 -1814) was permanently cast in a death mask in 1821.

The death mask was cast right after Napoleon died just after a day and a half of his death. It was a tradition to cast a death mask of a famous person's face during that time period. The mask's mold was made out of wax or plaster and applied to Napoleon's face about 40 hours after he died.

In Napoleon's case, there were several death masks created. There was the original parent mold and from this, additional bronze and plaster copies of Napoleon's death mask were created. Altogether, there may have been at least 9 or more death masks created directly from the original mold.

Historians have attempted to inventory all of Napoleon's original death masks that exist in public and private collections.

According to sources, there are only four genuine bronze death masks that are known to exist. In the U.S. the state of Louisiana is the owner of one of the bronze death masks.

The bronze Napoleon death mask is located in the Lousiana State Museum in New Orleans.

It was first presented to the city of New Orleans in the early 1830s by Dr. Francois Antommarchi, one of Napoleon's doctors who was by his bedside when he died. However, it was briefly lost and privately owned a few times before it was donated once again to the city.

Two other genuine copies of Napoleon's death masks are also found in Boston and North Carolina.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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