The Real Face of Dolley Madison Life Mask Portrait Print


Giclee print on Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. Signed with Certificate of Authenticity.


“The Real Face of Dolley Madison”

Starting with a high-resolution photograph of the Dolley Madison life mask created by John Henri Isaac Browere (1790—1834) in 1825; combined with meticulous research into eye color, hair style and color, eyebrows, complexion, etc.; and the magic of Adobe Photoshop this resultant image takes the viewer back to that day in 1825! As you look into her confident eyes you can see how was right at home in the politics of Washington, the consummate hostess and political player.

‘Dolly’ Madison was in her fifty and third year when Browere made his mask of her face, and she lived on for a quarter century. She has always been surrounded by an atmosphere of personal interest, not so much for what she was as for what she was supposed to be. She doubtless possessed a charm of manner that made her a most attractive hostess at the White House during her reign of eight years, in which particular she shares the laurels with the winsome wife of Mr. Cleveland.”1

Dolley Madison

“The bust of Madison is very fine in character and expression, but that of Mrs. Madison is of particular interest, as being the only woman’s face handed down to us by Browere.
“That (James) Madison was satisfied with the result of Browere’s skill is shown by the following: Per request of Mr. Browere, busts of myself and of my wife, regarded as exact likenesses, have been executed by him in plaister (sic), being casts made from the moulds (sic) formed on our persons, of which this certificate is given under my hand at Montpelier, 19, October, 1825. – James Madison.”1

About Life Masks:

Before photography, life masks were the best way to give us an exact likeness of their subject. Plaster would be applied to the head and sometimes upper torso to create a mold from which a life mask (cast bust) of the person would be created. In addition to being three-dimensional, the faithful transfer process of the life mask creation eliminated the “artistic license” and “sympathetic treatment” employed by many contemporary portrait artists. Thus, using life masks, I am able to complete a forensic/academic study of how the subjects most likely appeared using Adobe Photoshop to add flesh, hair, and other details.

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.”2

J. I. Browere’s made life masks of many famous early Americans, Marquis De Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Dolley Madison and James Madison to name a few.

About Your Print:

Your print comes with a certificate of authenticity and was made by a commercial printing service using Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. My signature on the back is signed with an archival acid free ink pen and the blue logo stamp uses archival acid free ink.

Your print will last as long, if not longer than silver halide photographs under the same conditions. If you display your print in a frame under glass or acrylic board, try to avoid hanging in direct sunlight as the color may fade over time, as do traditional photographs.

This is a new ready-to-frame print. (FRAME NOT INCLUDED)

Prints ship with 1-5 business days via USPS First Class Mail. Free U.S. Shipping.

If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your print, we will completely refund your order.

1,2 Charles Henry Hart. “The Project Gutenberg EBook of Browere’s Life Masks of Great Americans”

Additional information

Print Size

5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20