Author: C.J. Burton
These grave markers — pressed up against either side of an imposing wall, with a pair of clasped hands reaching over the wall’s top — date to a time in Dutch history when Catholic and Protestant graves were strictly segregated. A Catholic and a Protestant married couple, separated in death, arranged for this unique workaround in order to rejoin one another
A group of scarabs from the Scarabaeid family, July 1929.
Photograph by Edwin L. Wisherd, National Geographic
In the late 1880s, the body of a 16-year-old girl was pulled from the Seine. She was apparently a suicide, as her body showed no marks of violence, but her beauty and her enigmatic smile led a Paris pathologist to order a plaster death mask of her face.
In the romantic atmosphere of fin de siècle Europe, the girl’s face became an ideal of feminine beauty. The protagonist of Rainer Maria Rilke’s 1910 novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge writes, “The mouleur, whose shop I pass every day, has hung two plaster masks beside his door. [One is] the face of the young drowned woman, which they took a cast of in the morgue, because it was beautiful, because it smiled, because it smiled so deceptively, as if it knew.”
Ironically, in 1958 the anonymous girl’s features were used to model the first-aid mannequin Rescue Annie, on which thousands of students have practiced CPR. Though the girl’s identity remains a mystery, her face, it’s said, has become “the most kissed face of all time.”
Porcelain Meat Dress, by Mark Ryden. 2012. Porcelain. Edition of 9. 23” x 6” x 8”.