Weird History 17 Plaster Face Molds Of Famous Historical Figures That Were Made Moments After They Died  

Genevieve Carlton
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Death masks are an eerie glimpse into the final moments of life. These detailed sculptures of prominent historical figures were made immediately after death to capture the face’s exact likeness. Death and mourning rituals can be strange. For example, in the 19th century, people practiced weird mourning rituals, such as wearing jewelry made from dead people’s hair. Death masks are no exception.

The oldest death mask might be those worn by Egyptian Pharaohs like King Tut, but the more exact versions of the face featured on this list became popular after the 14th century, until photography eventually replaced the practice. 

What is a death mask? It is essentially a mold of a dead person's face. They are made by packing clay or wax on the face of a dead body, and then using the negative cast of the face to produce multiple copies of the death mask. Starting in the 14th century, death masks were preserved for their historic value or used to create sculptures and busts of the deceased. As such, death masks were often reserved for royalty and notable people, such as scientific genius Isaac Newton and notorious mobster John Dillinger. To see some amazing side-by-side images of portraits of famous people and their face molds moments after their death, scroll down below.


Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 17 Plaster Face Molds Of Famous Historical Figures That Were Made Moments After They Died
Photo:  Alexander Gardner/James Morgan

Age: Died at 56 (1809-1865)

Profession: Statesman, Politician, Lawyer

Cause Of Death: Ballistic trauma, Assassination

Born: 1809-02-12

Also Ranked

#70 on The Greatest American Writers of All Time

#30 on The Most Enlightened Leaders in World History

#12 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

#3 on The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

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Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 17 Plaster Face Molds Of Famous Historical Figures That Were Made Moments After They Died
Photo:  Joseph Karl Stieler/Daniel Hass

Age: Died at 57 (1770-1827)

Profession: Songwriter, Pianist, Musician, Lyricist, Composer, + more

Born: 1770-01-01

Also Ranked

#19 on The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

#37 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

#18 on The Greatest Minds of All Time

#31 on The Most Influential People of All Time

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Dante Alighieri is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 17 Plaster Face Molds Of Famous Historical Figures That Were Made Moments After They Died
Photo:  Sandro Botticelli/Husky

Age: Died at 56 (1265-1321)

Profession: Statesman, Poet, Politician, Novelist, Writer

Born: 1265-01-01

Also Ranked

#5 on The Best Catholic Authors

#16 on The Best Writers of All Time

#61 on People We Wish Were Still Alive

#2 on The Greatest Poets of All Time

see more on Dante Alighieri