“L’Inconnue de la Seine”
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“L’Inconnue de la Seine”

About

This bisque porcelain wall mask is of an anonymous woman who, in the 1880s, committed suicide by drowning by jumping into the Seine river in Paris. Her identity was never discovered, but her enigmatic facial expression and innocent, peaceful beauty motivated the pathologist at the morgue in Paris to make a death mask of her face in plaster, casts of which eventually were sold to the public. Called "L'Inconnue de la Seine" ("The Unknown Woman of the Seine"), this mysterious young woman's visage became an icon of the Parisian Bohemian set and a muse for many of the great pioneers of modern art and literature (including Pablo Picasso, Vladimir Nabokov, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Man Ray), who purchased reproductions of her death mask to hang in their studios for inspiration. Albert Camus even compared her half-smile to that of the Mona Lisa. In 1955, a Norwegian toy maker named Asmund Laerdal made the first prototype of what we now know as the CPR doll. Laerdal wanted his mannequin to have a natural appearance, and remembering a mask on the wall of his grandparents' house many years earlier, he decided that the "L'Inconnue de la Seine" would become the face of "Resusci Anne", the mannequin that would teach people how to perform emergency CPR. An anonymous woman who drowned herself in the 19th century is thus responsible for saving countless lives the world over. It is ironic that a young woman who ended her own life (perhaps over unrequited love) has the most kissed face of all time, as hundreds of millions of people have been trained in CPR using a doll based on "L'Inconnue de la Seine" to practice on. This bisque porcelain example of "L'Inconnue de la Seine" was made in Oeslau-Rödental, Germany between 1957 and 1963. It is marked W. Germany on the reverse.     

Details

  • Dimensions
    H 5.75 in. x W 5.25 in. x D 3 in.H 14.61 cm x W 13.34 cm x D 7.62 cm
  • Seller Location
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Reference Number
    LU809116245112
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    $110
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About the Seller

5 / 5
Vetted
Gold
Associations: 20th Century Specialists
1stdibs seller since 2005
Located in Los Angeles, CA
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