200 years ago (14 December 1816) Keats had his Life Mask made

life-mask-webImage: National Portrait Gallery Shop A replica of Keats’s life mask.

On Saturday 14 December 1816, the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon made a life mask of Keats (so he could include him as one of the onlookers in his massive painting Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem). Fellow-poet John Hamilton Reynolds watched the procedure: Keats’s face was greased with fat, straws were put up his nose so he could breathe, and his hair was bandaged. Then he lay on his back and Haydon daubed his face with plaster of Paris, which was left to set for ten minutes or so. Before the invention of photography, this was the only way to get an exact likeness of someone’s face.

It was a busy time for Keats. Three days earlier, he had met Shelley at Leigh Hunt’s. In his autobiography. Hunt wrote:
“I had not known the young poet long, when Shelley and he became acquainted under my roof. Keats did not take to Shelley as kindly as Shelley did to him. Shelley’s only thoughts of his new acquaintance were such as regarded his bad health, with which he sympathized, and his poetry, of which he has left such a monument of his admiration in Adonais. Keats, being a little too sensitive on the score of his origin, felt inclined to see in every man of birth a sort of natural enemy.”

Source of quotation
https://archive.org/stream/leighhuntautobio00hunt/leighhuntautobio00hunt_djvu.txt    (Chapter xvi)

 

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