Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Seine

CarlosTheDJ

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Here’s something that happened. In the early twentieth century, a popular piece of art for the fashionable French home was L’Inconnue de la Seine (translation: “the unknown woman of the Seine”), a completely creepy death-mask (pictured at left) of a young woman whose body had been pulled from the Seine River in Paris, sometime in the 1870s or 1880s. As the (somewhat questionable) story goes, a pathologist at the morgue found the unknown woman’s face enchanting, so he made a death mask, a plaster casting of her face. The resulting cast was widely reproduced and became both a popular objet d’art, as well as extremely influential to writers, artists, and indeed young girls who attempted to replicate her (dead) looks. And you thought your friends were goth in high school….

Having said all that, there are some questions as to the real origin of the mask (whether its source was indeed a dead woman or if it was a life mask from an unknown living woman who never spoke up), but let’s just stick with the standard story and see how creepy it gets, shall we? As Wikipedia explains (emphasis added):

In the following years, numerous copies were produced. The copies quickly became a fashionable morbid fixture in Parisian Bohemian society. Albert Camus and others compared her enigmatic smile to that of the Mona Lisa, inviting numerous speculations as to what clues the eerily happy expression in her face could offer about her life, her death, and her place in society.

The popularity of the figure is also of interest to the history of artistic media, relating to its widespread reproduction. The original cast had been photographed, and new casts were created back from the film negatives. These new casts displayed details that are usually lost in bodies taken from the water, but the apparent preservation of these details in the visage of the cast seemed to only reinforce its authenticity.

Critic A. Alvarez wrote in his book on suicide, The Savage God: “I am told that a whole generation of German girls modeled their looks on her.” According to Hans Hesse of the University of Sussex, Alvarez reports, “the Inconnue became the erotic ideal of the period, as Bardot was for the 1950s. He thinks that German actresses like Elisabeth Bergner modeled themselves on her. She was finally displaced as a paradigm by Greta Garbo.”

But wait, it gets creepier. Have you taken a CPR class? Then perhaps you’ve locked lips with L’Inconnue; in 1958, the woman’s face was used on the first CPR doll, dubbed Rescue Annie. Some have thus called hers “the most kissed face of all time,” despite all these kisses occurring roughly eighty years after her death. No, not creepy in the slightest.

L’Inconnue de la Seine was a major inspiration for artists of all kinds. In Influence and authenticity of l’Inconnue de la Seine by Anja Zeidler, it is revealed that L’Inconnue influenced artists including Albert Camus, Rainer Maria Rilke and Anaïs Nin, among others.

You can read more about L’Inconnue de la Seine at Wikipedia, and check out confirmation of the Rescue Annie story from Snopes. But whatever you do, do not stare at her eyes for more than thirty seconds, or they will fly open and you’ll lose your mind. (Okay, I made that last part up. But why not throw some more creepiness on the pile?)
http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/35719
 

Yithian

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I was certain that the picture you uploaded was a.gif and she was going to open her eyes after a minute or so and completely terrify me!
 

escargot

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Re: The Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Se

CarlosTheDJ said:
whatever you do, do not stare at her eyes for more than thirty seconds, or they will fly open and you’ll lose your mind. (Okay, I made that last part up...
A spot of 'shopping'll soon sort that out. ;)
 

PeniG

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My health teacher told us that Rescue Annie was modelled on the drowned daughter of the doctor who came up with the concept. The model we used was life-size, with lank blond hair, and didn't look remotely like that picture, that I recall.
 

rynner2

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She looks like a woman who works on the check-outs at my local Tesco... :shock:
 

OneWingedBird

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"Resusci Annie" has a quite disturbing resemblance to Jimmy Saville.

Never realised until our first aid tutor said so. Probably my own fault for asking if they made a resusci doll that looked like Antonio Banderas :oops:
 

rynner2

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As the thread title is too long to display properly, can it be shortened to "L’Inconnue de la Seine"?

(Anyway, I hate thread titles that tell me what to think, or how to react! :twisted: )
 

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Hmmm, doesn't look much like a dunker to me. Looks a bit too serene. If she was, I think they must have got her out pretty quick, immersion plays havoc with your looks. Any second opinions from our resident peelers? (I was going to add nurses and doctors but I think its probable the police deal with the drowned far more often - after all they're a bit far gone for medical expertise to be of much use. And I've just reminded myself of possibly the most gut-churning story I've ever heard - related to me by an ex-army friend who became a police diver in Northern Ireland...and I've only just eaten...ulp).
 

escargot

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L’Inconnue de la Seine scans to the tune for 'scargot
Off she went with a trumpety trump
trump
trump
trump


:? Hmm.
 

LaurenChurchill

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Actually the first thing I thought when I saw that pic was that she looks like all the CPR dummies I've used when doing first aid
 

stu neville

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rynner2 said:
As the thread title is too long to display properly, can it be shortened to "L’Inconnue de la Seine"?

(Anyway, I hate thread titles that tell me what to think, or how to react! :twisted: )
I've half-compromised.

It is creepy. mind.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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stuneville said:
rynner2 said:
As the thread title is too long to display properly, can it be shortened to "L’Inconnue de la Seine"?

(Anyway, I hate thread titles that tell me what to think, or how to react! :twisted: )
I've half-compromised.

It is creepy. mind.
I can't even remember what my original thread title was, I just nicked the headline from the story!

Do what ya like with it :p
 

escargot

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I've had my thread titles 'tweaked' by mods in the past, ungrammatically sometimes, which has annoyed me as I put some thought into what I post. :evil:

However, it's not worth chucking the rattle over. The mod who's done it has always pointed out their interference so it's they who look the fool. ;)
 

stu neville

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Your original was "The Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Se" - so I amputated the definite article and restored the "ine". Sympathetic tweaking at its best.

And while I may sometimes employ a sledgehammer, I always do so grammatically :).
 

CarlosTheDJ

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stuneville said:
Your original was "The Creepiest Thing Ever: L’Inconnue de la Se" - so I amputated the definite article and restored the "ine". Sympathetic tweaking at its best.

And while I may sometimes employ a sledgehammer, I always do so grammatically :).
Oh that's fine, no worries....sorry for the lack of checkage at this end.
 

Dingo667

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Spookdaddy said:
And I've just reminded myself of possibly the most gut-churning story I've ever heard - related to me by an ex-army friend who became a police diver in Northern Ireland...and I've only just eaten...ulp).
Am I the only one that would like to know this story?
Please tell...you can put an alert before...please...pretty please... :likee:
 

badwolf

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Nope, I'm all ears as well, although I'll probably regret it later.
 

Ornithocrat

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Weird...I was just starting to read this thread and my flatmate (who had fallen asleep watching TV) woke up for a minute, looked at the photo, grunted, and pointed; then he pointed at me and then at the photo again. "Like you," he said, meaning it looks like me.

:?
 

CarlosTheDJ

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Dingo667 said:
Spookdaddy said:
And I've just reminded myself of possibly the most gut-churning story I've ever heard - related to me by an ex-army friend who became a police diver in Northern Ireland...and I've only just eaten...ulp).
Am I the only one that would like to know this story?
Please tell...you can put an alert before...please...pretty please... :likee:
Yeah yeah.....me to.......huh huh.
 

Spookdaddy

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CarlosTheDJ said:
Dingo667 said:
Am I the only one that would like to know this story?
Please tell...you can put an alert before...please...pretty please... :likee:
Yeah yeah.....me to.......huh huh.
Okay...(anyone who gets queasy easily, or has just eaten blancmange, might want to skip the following).

My friend was a Royal Engineer Diver and when he left the army he became a police diver. He was based in Northern Ireland (a Catholic working for the RUC, as it was back then – rare, but not quite as rare as you might think). I don’t remember exactly where this took place, although he lived near Derry at the time I heard the story.

So, one night, in poor conditions – raining and blustery, but not quite severe enough to postpone the gig – he’s called out to assist in the recovery of a body, that of a suspected suicide who had been missing for several days. At this point he’s fairly new to the job and possibly lacking certain knowledge that might come only with experience (like why the old peeler on the boat seems more than usually upset that he can’t, strictly against regulations, get his reeking old pipe lit). The body has been spotted but appears to have become submerged again (apparently bodies don’t always simply rise to the surface and stay there after a couple of days - they bob up and down like a peanut in a pint of lager).

Anyway, the body is located and brought to the surface but conditions are worsening and they decide to just haul the corpse up and be done with it rather than take time in deploying the bits of kit that might make getting it on board a bit easier. The old hand and a new boy glove up and reach down to grab the body by the arms while my friend steadies it by the waist. They’re doing okay – the body is almost totally out of the water, only its legs below the knees still submerged – when something gives the body slips through his hands and the corpse lands on my friend and dunks him. When he rights himself he realises he’s still got hold of the body around the waist, only the waist, or I should say the skin of the waist, is now rucked up under the armpits of the corpse and apparently moving independantly of the body underneath it.

When he’s stopped gagging in his mask he looks up to see the old peeler laughing like a maniac and the newbie puking onto his trousers, both of them holding things that look like very tattered shoulder length rubber gloves.

It’s something to do with adipose tissue or the distension of connective tissue or something - he then went into detail about the effects his first experience of adipocere in a drowning victim had on him...wasn’t really listening at that point, felt a bit bilious and my Guinness seemed to have turned green.

....erp...
 

agentbuffy

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As a bit of a continuance to the above tale, I used to work with a bloke who used to be in the Met. Periodically they would have to pull either suicides, murders or accident victims out of the Thames. When it came to identifying them, well fingerprints are always good, right? Only problem, if the body has been in the drink for a while, the skin goes a bit spongy, and prints don't take too well. The solution ...


... pull the skin of the hand off like a glove, and then wear it to make the prints.

And if that doesn't make you feel a bit funny inside, I don't know what would.
 

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You mean like the skin had stretched/was loose? Or it had split and come up and there were rotting innards everywhere? :shock:

A woman who i work with told me a similar sounding story from when she was a nurse, said she went to change the dressings on this guys leg that had gangrene and was up for amputation, she was quite new and nearly yakked with the smell, then when she got the bandages off, the starts pulling this wadding out of a wound on the leg and it keeps coming, like his leg was hollow with just th eskin and bone left :shock: :cry:
 

EnolaGaia

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My health teacher told us that Rescue Annie was modelled on the drowned daughter of the doctor who came up with the concept. The model we used was life-size, with lank blond hair, and didn't look remotely like that picture, that I recall.
The original CPR training mannequin was indeed modeled on L'Inconnue de la Seine. The mannequin's hair is an optional add-on that can vary, and there are other training mannequins on the market.

Here's a detailed account of the path leading from an enigmatic 19th century Parisian drowning victim to "the most kissed lips of all time" ...
Here's How a Dead Girl in Paris Ended Up With The Most-Kissed Lips in History

Nobody knows what her name was. We don't know her age or background. How her life brought her to Paris, and left her drowned in the River Seine.

But when her lifeless body was pulled from those murky waters in the late 19th century, the girl known forevermore as L'Inconnue de la Seine (the unknown woman of the Seine) began an amazing new story in death.

This strange second chapter, a surreal postscript nobody could have ever predicted, ultimately helped save millions of lives, even after her own was cut so tragically short. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s...ended-up-with-the-most-kissed-lips-in-history
 

EnolaGaia

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Judge the resemblance for yourself ... Here's an exhibit photo showing the original Resusci Anne face and the famous L'Inconnue de la Seine death mask.

rescueannie.jpg
 

Ermintruder

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The original CPR training mannequin was indeed modeled on L'Inconnue de la Seine
The lyric "Annie, are you OK?" from the Michael Jackson song "Smooth Criminal" actually stems from American CPR training
The face of L'Inconnue (and of Resucci Annes) always reminds me of the truly-odd alabaster/marble faces of the statues in the drowned virgin martyrs' glasshouse at Stirling Old Cemetry...the face is similar

(See a brief view of this half-way through the inserted 1min videoclip....along with the Stirling pyramid, which I coincidently was at , yesterday)

A still shot of the incredibly-unpleasant glasshoused statues (how often do graveyards have glass structures protecting their monuments?)

(The 'Margaret Martyr' drowned face is much-more idealised/imaginary than that of L'Inconnue...the French girl has an intimate realism about her)

ps the 'pyramid' further north towards the castle is probably only about 15ft tall, including the base, and is very non-Egyptian in its geometry.
 
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