Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown
François Antommarchi

Death Mask of Napoleon I

Artist

François Antommarchi
Baragona Mursiglia, Corsica, 1789 – Santiago, Cuba, 1838

Title

Death Mask of Napoleon I

Date

After 1833

Materials

Patinated bronze

Dimensions

18.5 x 15.5 x 34 cm

Publisher

Cast L. Richard & Quesnel, Paris

Credits

Ben Weider Collection, inv. 2008.416

Collection

Western Art

In 1818, when he was only a junior anatomy demonstrator in Florence, the Corsican-born Doctor Francesco Antommarchi was asked by the Bonaparte family to replace Doctor O’Meara as physician to the erstwhile Emperor. When Napoleon died, on May 5, 1821, the doctor took an impression of the dead face, using a mixture of ground minerals. Controversy raged for more than a decade over who made the initial cast. Two doctors claimed to have done so, Antommarchi and the English surgeon Francis Burton, who was on the island. Antommarchi waited until 1833, when his English rival was dead, before authorizing the production and marketing of copies of his death mask. Cast in plaster and in bronze, the Antommarchi mask bears his signature on one side and a small bronze medallion of the Emperor’s head in profile, wearing a laurel wreath, at the front, as in this version.

Add a touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation