Collection: Death Masks / Life Casts

What is a Death Mask?

A death mask is a plaster or wax casting created from the face of a deceased person, frequently very soon after their passing. From ancient BCE until the middle of the 20th century, people employed death masks and their corresponding funeral masks, which are more specialised masks created in the exact likeness of a person. Death masks were used for a variety of purposes by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Medieval French, Medieval English, and even early American cultures. These purposes included commemorating the deceased, helping artists create sculptures, and, in later times, for the pseudoscience of phrenology.

Death masks are associated with many well-known historical figures, such as King Tut, Mary Queen of Scots, William Shakespeare (though some question where the mask originated), and Abraham Lincoln, who is known to have had two masks made (one from 1860 and one from 1865).

Lincoln's two masks are well-known instances of life masks, which are casts created while the subject is still alive as opposed to after they pass away. The mid-20th century saw the popularization of photography and the discretization of phrenology, which made death masks obsolete. The art of creating death masks came to an end in the 1950s, but those that had already been made are still in collections and on display across the globe.

Disclaimer

All the items in my store are intended for entertainment use only such as props or for private collections.

None of my products contain real human skin, flesh or body parts and are made to resemble such items using latex slicone laminate.