Death masks are casts taken of a person's face following their death. Casts were often made from wax, clay, or plaster and were primarily used to remember the dead. The process has roots in Egyptian mummification and Mycenean Greek traditions. After the middle ages, death masks were made of prominent figures to be saved for display. Later, casts were taken of unknown corpses for future identification. Death masks were eventually replaced by photography.
Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. His political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.
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Unknown Artist: Death Mask of Heinrich Heine, Leo Baeck Institute, 68.5.