The Real Face of Voltaire Life Mask Print
The Real Face of Voltaire
Starting with a high-resolution photograph of the Voltaire life mask created by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741 –1828); 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 1778!
François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity—especially the Roman Catholic Church—as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
“Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, histories, and scientific expositions. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, and was at constant risk from the strict censorship laws of the Catholic French monarchy. His polemics witheringly satirized intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.
Voltaire traveled and sat for Houdon several times before the exertion and excitement of his journey took their toll; he died on 30 May 1778.”1
“In a few sittings, Houdon grasped the expression that captivated contemporaries. The weary face, with its sagging neck and toothless mouth, nevertheless radiates intense mental and spiritual vitality. Penetrating observation, mocking humor, and sorrow show in the lined eyes, lifted brows, and compressed smile. Voltaire’s face epitomizes the quality so often implied in eighteenth-century portraiture — quick, biting wit.”2
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.
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.
Sources & References:
1,2National Gallery of Art. “Voltaire” https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.46715.html