The Art of Darkness

The Most-Kissed Face of All Time

February 14th, 2008 by Cobwebs

InconnueIf you’ve ever taken a CPR class you may have planted a kiss, by proxy, on a woman who committed suicide over 100 years ago.

In 1900, the body of an unidentified young woman, an apparent suicide, was pulled from the river Seine in Paris. Enchanted by the mysterious corpse’s beauty, a morgue worker made a plaster cast of the woman’s face. Copies of this “drowned Mona Lisa,” as Camus would later describe her, soon proliferated across Paris, appearing first in the city’s salons and finally in its literature. Nabokov wrote a poem titled “L’Inconnue de la Seinne.” Rilke mentioned her in his only novel. Man Ray photographed her. A character in Louis Aragon’s novel Aurélien tries to resurrect her.

The Inconnue (unknown woman) became an ideal of female beauty, and fashionable girls modeled their looks on her. Fifty-eight years later Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal used the face as a model for a first-aid mannequin they were developing. The mannequin was eventually marketed as Resusci Anne, and its ubiquity in CPR courses have caused some to call it “the most kissed face” of all time.

(I like to get a little romantic on Valentine’s Day.)

Link (via Neatorama)

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