The Life Mask Face of James Madison – A Photoshop Reconstruction Part II

James Madison Life Mask

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The Life Mask Face of James Madison – A Photoshop Reconstruction Part II

Examining James Madison’s True Likeness

This post features a side profile view of James Madison’s life mask. The life mask of Madison’s head and upper torso was cast by John Henri Isaac Browere in 1825.

J. I. Browere’s “work achieved a stark realism uncommon in that day. His plaster busts showed the age-lined brow, the pock-marked face; his subjects appeared as they were, not as artists generally portrayed them. His life masks were, and remain, the most authentic likenesses of some historic figures who lived in a day before photography provided more easily obtained but similarly uncompromising portraits.”1

James Madison LIfe Mask
Source: James Madison, 1825, John Henri Isaac Browere (1790-1834), Plaster, H: 28.5 x W: 21 x D: 11.5 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Stephen C. Clark, N0244.1940. Photograph by Richard Walker. USED BY PERMISSION
James Madison Life Mask
Photoshop Reconstruction of the life mask of James Madison. Purchase archival quality Giclée prints of James Madison.

Different Hairstyles

Here we see how Madison might have styled his hair. From his various paintings, we know he usually had protruding side hair. The first image shows him with protruding side hair. The second image shows him with the side hair trimmed.

James Madison hair styles, 1. Protruding side hair 2. Trimmed side hair 3. No comb over
James Madison hair styles, 1. Protruding side hair 2. Trimmed side hair 3. No comb over

The third image shows Madison without his “widow’s peak ” comb-over. In all of his paintings, we see him sporting this comb-over. Perhaps on days when he was not in public and hanging around the house, he might not have bothered to do the comb-over.

Variations of Paintings

Below are several of the known paintings of Madison. From what I see, artists were all over the place.  Some of these images look nothing like Madison.

Paintings of James Madison
Source: Griffonage-Dot-Com2

Using Madison’s life mask and comparing it with known portraits, Asher Durand’s 1833 painting appears to be the most faithful likeness of Madison, at least in his later years.

James Madison portrait comparison
1) Front-Facing life mask Photoshop restoration 2) 1833 Painting of James Madison by Asher Durand 3) Profile life mask Photoshop restoration

Archival James and Dolley Madison Prints Available


Sources & References:
1Charles Henry Hart. “The Project Gutenberg EBook of Browere’s Life Masks of Great Americans” Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899 https://www.gutenberg.org/files/51890/51890-h/51890-h.htm (Public Domain)
2Patrick Feaster. “Averaged Portraits of U. S. Presidents, 1789-1829” Griffonage-Dot-Com https://griffonagedotcom.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/averaged-portraits-of-u-s-presidents-1789-1829/

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