Hmmm… such an enchanting string of words don’t you think? L’Inconnue de la Seine to me looks like the beautiful title of a play, but in reality the English translation is “The Unknown Woman of the Seine”. Sounds intriguing doesn’t it?
“Who was she?”, you may ask. Well, back in the late 1880s a young woman’s body was pulled out of the Seine River located at the Quai du Louvre in Paris. The local officials theorized that the cause of death was suicide since there was no evidence of foul play. Now here’s where the story gets a little strange. It was alleged that the Paris morgue’s pathologist at the time was so completely awestruck by the young woman’s beauty that he created a death mask of her face. Kinda creepy, right?!
And as if that wasn’t disturbing enough…. Apparently the pathologist wasn’t the only one who was charmed by the vision because a large amount of copies were made of the unknown beauty’s death mask throughout the years. As macabre as it may sound, the copies rapidly made their way in the fashion of Parisian Bohemian society. This mysterious belle has even been the inspiration that has led to the creation of countless literary works.
In his book titled, The Savage God, critic Al Alvarez wrote, “I am told that a whole generation of German girls modeled their looks on her.” (All I can say here is, “WOW!” A whole generation, huh? Interesting to know that someone’s beauty was that alluring! She must have been quite the stunner!)
Her beauty was actually considered so captivating that she had become the model of sensuality. She’s also been referred to as L’Inconnue: The Mona Lisa of the Seine, but in current times to millions of people now days, her face is recognized as someone entirely different. To all the amazing people who have learned CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), her face is known as Resusci Anne. That’s right, the calming face on the CPR mannequin is that of L’Inconue de la Seine. Wait, what?! Seriously?? I know, I thought it was really fascinating, too!!
After more than a century’s passed, this magnificent young woman’s appeal continues to remain with us. A poetic sense of immortality for an unknown beauty who still mystifies us even to this day.
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~ Art by Sheila Renee Parker available at: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/sheilarenee-parker.html