You probably breathed life into one of those CPR dolls in high school or at a fire station when you were learning how to perform CPR on someone. Well, hopefully, you did, because it’s a pretty nifty lif skill to have. But did you know that the CPR doll’s face is actually modeled after a woman from the 19th century who drowned? Yeah, our mind is blown too. So who was this mysterious woman whose face saved millions of people?
The Face Behind it All
L’Inconnue de la Seine was a 19th-century woman whose death mask saved thousands of lives over the years. Unfortunately, there’s a grim story behind the woman whose face was used to create CPR dolls that will make you think twice before putting your lips on hers.
This is the portrait of a dead woman, who despite her tragic ending, had her face captured and recreated with a sense of peace. But although this unidentified individual met a horrible end, she ended up helping lots of people.
According to Legend
The exact story is unclear, but most people believe that the young woman died at her own hand in the late 1880s by jumping in the River Seine in Paris, France. Some specialists have speculated that she may have been 16 years old at the time of her passing.
Her body was taken to the Paris Morgue where a pathologist allegedly saw her and was overwhelmed by the young woman’s beauty. So, to preserve her look for eternity, he made a death mask of her by using wax. But it wasn’t the last mask to ever get made.
The Parisian Mona Lisa
Various copies of the pathologist’s death mask were created and circulated. Soon, Parisians started displaying the girl’s face at home because of the girl’s peaceful smile. In fact, philosopher Albert Camus once compared the smile to the Mona Lisa.
She Became an Icon
Her face spread throughout history. It even inspired artists and writers to incorporate her into their work. Some scholars argued that women tried to model their appearance to look like “The Unknown Woman of the Seine.”
Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal chose the woman’s death mask as a template for the face of the CPR doll known as Resusci Anne. Since the mannequin was used in various CPR courses, “L’Inconnue de la Seine” was deemed one of the most kissed faces in history.
A Horrifying Thought
Next time you decide to renew your CPR license, you will undoubtedly have to give one of these CPR dolls a smooch to prove you’re qualified to save lives. But now that you know where the face came from, you might cringe a bit.
Who Was She Really?
Over the years, the face of this unknown woman has invited tons of speculations about who she was, what her life was like, and the circumstances that led her to supposedly end her life by drowning in that river.
A Bizarre Time
The 19th century was undoubtedly a bizarre time for people to become so fascinated with morbid things and death. But you have to wonder what this young woman’s life was like that death created such an expression of sublime contentment and peace. Luckily, her memory lives on in the form of a mask and it’s helping save countless lives, which is truly incredible.
For perfomance reasons we use Cloudflare as a CDN network. This saves a cookie "__cfduid" to apply security settings on a per-client basis. This cookie is strictly necessary for Cloudflare's security features and cannot be turned off.
These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site.