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I was intrigued by the little story they always tell student nurses about the resuscitation training dummies we use. They are popularly known as 'Anne' or Annie'. The face on these mannequins is more or less the same on every model, regardless of manufacturer or gender; that of a serene, young, northern European woman with well defined cheekbones. The legend goes that the face is based on that of the drowned daughter of the doctor who invented these devices.

Apparently not, though. It actually has a much longer history than the resus dummy. It is the face of 'l'inconnue', a girl who was allegedly found floating drowned in the Seine in Paris in the 1880s. Unable to identify her, the police put her on display for a while and her sad beauty caught the public imagination. A deathmask was made from her (see above), copies of which then became a popular inspiration and talking point for several writers and artists of the day. Nabokov wrote a poem about her. Wikipedia pours cold water on this version of events, however, citing sources which claim that this deathmask was most likely taken from a living model in Germany, as a faked-up money spinner, and not the dead 'inconnue' at. It makes a nice tale though.

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3/7/08 09:56 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
In moulds taken from a face, whether living or dead, people always look as if they had been drowned, so one can understand how the legend might have arisen.

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