Thursday, 26 April 2012

L'inconnue

Some time in 1880s Paris, the body of an unidentified young woman was pulled out of the Seine.  Who was she?

L'inconnu de la Seine - one of the most famous faces

Nobody really knows, but stories abound.  She has been known as 'L'inconnue de la Seine' - the unknown woman.

Since it was not possible to identify her, a plaster cast of her face was taken before she was buried.  According to some accounts, that was common practise at the time, before photography was cheap and easy.  It gave some hope that she would eventually be identified.  Such identification was not entirely altruistic of course.  It was the only opportunity for the funeral expenses to be recovered.

Many cities in Europe claim to have been her place of birth, and in each case they have a plausible story to back up that claim.  The discovery that she was pregnant has made many people speculate that she might have taken her own life rather than face the future as an unmarried mother.

The really surprising thing about her is that her face is said by many people to be the most beautiful imaginable.  In 1958, many decades after her death, two Swedish inventors decided that she was just what they needed when they invented a form of dummy that could be used to train people in the newly invented technique of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Therefore, she has been called "the most kissed face" of all time.

You might have met her.

2 comments:

RosaRubicondior said...

Resusi Anne.

Kissed her many, many times.

Used to teach CPR many moons ago.

Lesley said...

Check out www.thelegendoflinconnue.com

18 paintings and 18 songs all about The Unknown Woman!!