According to Wikipedia, a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person’s face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits.
Whatever the purpose of a death mask is, they also provide fascinating insight into what our sometimes fabled historical heroes (and villains) looked like.
Taken at the time of his autopsy and currently on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington DC. In 2007, Dr. John Sotos studied his face and medical records and concluded that he suffered from a disease called Multiple Mucosal Neuroma Syndrome and had he not been assassinated, he would have died soon anyway.
English film director and producer, referred to as the "Master of Suspense." Of course he'd opt for a death mask.
Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Original cast created on 7th May, 1821, one and a half day after his death on the island of St. Helena. Only four copies of the original cast have been verified has genuine. This bronzed copy is currently on display at the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans.
There is no consensus to whether this cast is a life mask or a death mask. However, the mask has a closer resemblance to images taken in his later years.
The bank robber who spawned numerous movies, urban legends, conspiracy theories and rumors of immortality. At least four original castings of his face were made at the Cook County morgue and copies remain popular collector’s items.
Another famous cast by Sergey Merkurov, taken on a pillow.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
Reputedly taken after post mortem by Josef Dannhauser. Beethoven suffered from ill health throughout the later stages of his life and the comparison with his life mask, taken in 1812, is startling.
Original cast by John Michael Rysbrack. Many copies of this mask were made and distributed and were especially prized by the Trinity Scholars of Cambridge University.
Death mask of the greatest Electrical Engineer ever can be viewed at the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade, Serbia.
The original death mask and will of the founder of Nobel prize is displayed at his residence in Karlskoga, Sweden