A new view of Robespierre

France Robespierre's Face

The History Blog today posted on “A Terrifying new facial reconstruction of Robespierre.” Using a plaster copy of a death mask Madame Tussaud claimed to have made from R’s decapitated head after he was guillotined on July 28th, 1794, forensic pathologists in Barcelona have reconstructed the Regicide’s face.

According to the blog;

Froesch (the lead forensic pathologist) used a hand-held scanner to create a 3D computer model of the face. He then added details to the smooth-faced model, like the more than 100 pockmarks caused by a bad case of smallpox he suffered 30 years before his death when he was a boy of six. The eyes were a particular challenge because the closed eyelids didn’t leave an impression in the plaster so they were drawn on. Using an FBI technique that allowed him to calculate the eye size and position from marks left on the mask by the corneas, he was able to correct the crude eyelid line.”

While the picture that most texts use to portray Robespierre indicate that he was no

Robespierre-ca-1790

beauty, the new bust, “is very far from the mild face conveyed in his portraits.”

Froesch and his colleague have also suggested a possible diagnosis for the illnesses that plagued Robespierre: Sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune syndrome where granulomas develop in the organs. Frequently, there were lesions on the skin that lasted for weeks.

According to the post, “Several clinical signs were described by contemporary witnesses: vision problems, nose bleeds (“he covered his pillow of fresh blood each night”), jaundice (“yellow coloured skin and eyes”), asthenia (“continuous tiredness”), recurrent leg ulcers, and frequent facial skin disease associated with scars of a previous smallpox infection. He also had permanent eye and mouth twitching. The symptoms worsened between 1790 and 1794. […]

Some readers might think that these afflictions could not have happened to a better person.

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About George Vascik, Historian

A 1988 graduate of the University of Michigan, I have taught history at Miami University since 1992. I maintain blogs on teaching Western Civilization and on Great War. My research focuses on anti-Semitism and rural politics in northwest Germany. I am completing a monograph for Bloomsbury Press, Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics. You can follow my project at http://peasantsandjews.org. Along with Mark Sadler, I have published a book of primary documents on the Stab-in-the-Back Myth (Dolchstoßlegende). http://www.dolchstosslegende.com. I also invite you to visit my profession web page at http://georgevascik.org.
This entry was posted in French Revolution, HST 122, Revolutions, Teaching, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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