Napeoleon's 'death mask' could be his butler's

19th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 18, 2007 (AFP) - The purported death mask of Napoleon on show in a Paris museum is not that of the emperor, a historian alleged Saturday, with some reports suggesting it is really that of his butler.

PARIS, Aug 18, 2007 (AFP) - The purported death mask of Napoleon on show in a Paris museum is not that of the emperor, a historian alleged Saturday, with some reports suggesting it is really that of his butler.

Bruno Rey-Henry said the real death mask had been auctioned in 2004 to an unidentified individual after being on display in London's Royal United Services Institute museum for some 25 years.

Rey-Henry said the mask in Paris's military museum, close to Napoleon's tomb in the Invalides, does not display a scar on the left cheek which figures in a portrait of the emperor after his surrender in 1815 by British artist Charles Lock Eastlake.

The scar was on the mask formerly in the London museum, he said, adding that the French example also did not match up to Napoleon's known appearance, with a big head and powerful jaw.

The French daily Liberation said Saturday the Paris mask could be that of Napoleon's butler, Cipriani Franceschi, whose body conspiracy theorists claim was the one brought back to France for burial in the Invalides in 1840.

The conspiracy theorists allege the emperor was poisoned during his exile on the British island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821, and that Franceschi's body was substituted to cover up the deed.

Rey-Henry told AFP, "It would be better if the false mask which is portrayed ... as being the face of the emperor on his death-bed were removed from public view."

The French defence ministry, which is responsible for the Paris military museum, refused to comment Saturday.

AFP

Subject: French news

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