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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It Never Hurts to Mask

If you want to see what a bunch of really famous people looked like with their eyes closed, check out the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks at Princeton. Some of the subjects who really shouldn't—like Jean-Paul Marat (right)—look downright content, while others—like William Wordsworth (below)—look pained even in life.

On the scale of creepiness, having a mask of your ancestor's face in the closet would be no worse than having a box of his ashes on the mantel. And a mask would be far more useful—whether for scaring trick-or-treaters or for entertaining your cousins at the family talent show.

Personally, I'd like to have a mask of my ancestor Moses Dunham's comely visage. Just this weekend, I read a description of Moses written by his grandson, my great-great-grandfather:

When in the prime of life he must have stood six feet in height and weighed 200 pounds; complexion light, eyes blue and expressive. But he was not "cast in nature's finest mould," like Washington, being long favored, with a nose to match; his whole face pitted from the effects of small pox while in the army.
This explains why you don't see many Dunhams in the pages of GQ.
[Hat tip: Kircher Society]

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