Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ban on Export of "Napoleon Death Mask"

The Independent 13th November, 2013

Apparently the Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey has been swayed by the advice of Ms Leslie Webster and has put a temporary block on the export of the rather dubious Boys death mask of Napoleon:

The sense that you are in the presence of Napoleon is very strong. There are many grandiose portraits, as well as contemporary British caricatures of this great and controversial figure, but this deathbed image speaks far more directly to us – here we see the man himself, and sense his charisma, even in death. (1)

The Independent trots out the usual claim about Boys and Napoleon of which there is not a shred of evidence, but does sensibly attribute that claim to the auction house that sold the mask:

Rev Boys played chess with Napoleon and brought several mementos of him when he returned to England, according to Bonhams .

It will be interesting to see if anyone comes up with the money. I can't really see the reason for doing so, particularly since the other Napoleon death mask allegedly made for Rev Boys on St Helena, the Sankey mask, is in the country.


1. Ms Leslie Webster as quoted in The Independent , November 13th 2013.