Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: George Bernard Shaw’s Death Mask

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.
                                            --George Bernard Shaw

You know, George was correct with that.  Nearly fifteen years in education publishing taught me that.  Oinkers!

Speaking of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), here's a nice portrait of the Pygmalion from Britain's National Portrait Gallery, a watercolor by Sir John Bernard Partridge ("The five of  us and, mom workin' all day, we knew that we could help her if our music would pay.  Danny got Ruben to sell our song, and it really came together when mom sang along").  

The National Portrait Gallery, Britain

Death mask of George Bernard Shaw, 1950
The British Museum

That's how he looked when he was alive.

And, this is what he looked like when he wasn't!

The practice of making a plaster mask from the face of a corpse is one that is really no longer employed. However, it was considered quite a normal tradition in previous centuries when personal images were rather difficult to come by. In Britain, death masks were often made of both the famous and the infamous as a way of recording their corporeal presence at the very last minute.

Despite being a supporter of Hitler, celebrated writer George Bernard Shaw had a profound effect on both British and world literature. It served to reason that his last countenance should have been preserved. And, so, here he remains today—his jaw loosened by death and his eyes closed in permanent sleep. Happy pre-Hallow-ma-ween.

Let's look at some other fun Shaw quotes which I find to be true.  If it weren't for that whole, Hitler thing, I'd be totally on board.

There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.

No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.

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