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The CPR Dolls’ Face Is a Copy from a 19th Century Death Mask of a Woman Who Drowned

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I bet you’ve never really wondered where they got the face they put on the CPR dummy.

It’s the face of L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine), and was borrowed from a 19th century death mask that has fascinated laypeople and scientists alike for centuries.

Her origins are unknown, but the popular and enduring belief places her as a woman pulled from the Seine in the late 1880s. Her body showed no signs of violence, leading most to believe the young girl (around the age of 16) must have thrown herself into the river of her own accord.

A pathologist at the Paris morgue was reportedly so fascinated with her beautiful, serene expression that he made a wax death mask of it that has stood the test of time.

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På slutet av 1880-talet hittades en ung flicka drunknad i floden Seine i Paris. Patalogen uppskattade hennes ålder till ungefär 16 år och med tanke på att kroppen saknade skador trodde han att det rörde sig om självmord. Han trollbands av hennes vackra och fridfulla ansikte och gjorde en vaxavgjutning. Den blev sedermera väldigt populär och massproducerad som en kul inredningsdetalj. Albert Camus skall ha jämfört henne med Mona Lisa. Hon blev ett skönhetsideal och unga kvinnor försökte efterlikna henne. Myten kring "L'inconnue de la Seine" kom att inspirera många konstnärer och författare som till exempel Nabokov och Rilke och en låt av Beach house. En annan som fastnade för flickans ansikte var skaparen av den CPR-dockan. Därför kallas hon "det mest kyssta ansiktet". #linconnuedelaseine #labelleitalienne #theunknownwomanoftheseine

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Her calm expression charmed more and more people, with Parisians even keeping copies of the mask in their homes. Albert Camus even famously compared her smile to that of the Mona Lisa, and people have long speculated about her life and the circumstances of her death.

The sad, peaceful face has inspired pieces of art, stories, novels, and even fashion as women tried to copy her hair and style.

When Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal created the first aid mannequin, Resusci Anne, they chose the drowned woman’s death mask as the doll’s face – making the Unknown Woman of the Seine the “most kissed face” of all time.

Which is all to say that human beings are exceptionally weird, because we’ve somehow romanticized a woman we know nothing about and never will.

Here’s hoping she wouldn’t have cringed at the thought.