The Life Mask Face of James Madison – A Photoshop Reconstruction Part II
Examining James Madison’s True Likeness
This post is part III in the series of James Madison life mask posts. For more history, see What Did The Founding Fathers Look Like? – James Madison and The Life Mask Face of James Madison – A Photoshop Restoration.
In this post we now get to see a side profile of James Madison from his life mask. The life mask was cast in 1825 of Madison’s head and upper torso by John Henri Isaac Browere.
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
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.
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.
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.
Sources & References:
Charles 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)
Patrick 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/