Death masks—plaster casts of a person’s face, taken shortly after death—are an old technology. The Thanatos Death Mask Gallery collects images of them, providing what are at times startlingly immediate pictures of long-dead faces. For instance: Benjamin Franklin, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Joseph Smith, John C. Calhoun, Dante Alighieri, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton, Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon, Robespierre, Nicolo Machiavelli, Jonathan Swift, John Wesley, Lorenzo di Medici, and Henry VII of England; also Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and William Tecumseh Sherman.Addendum: One of the reasons I listed and linked to so many masks is that the site’s thumbnails aren’t labeled, and its site index doesn’t work. Since I’m already doing it, might as well go on:
Writers and Philosophers: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gustave Flaubert (1) (2), Johann Goethe (1) (2), Nikolaj Gogol, Heinrich Heine, Victor Hugo, John Keats (1) (2), Friedrich Nietzsche, Alexander Pushkin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Schiller, Sir Walter Scott, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Leo Tolstoy, and Voltaire (possibly touched up?).
Other Notables: Phineas Gage (railroad worker), Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Mary, Queen of Scots (repainted by what has to be a modern hand), Pope Pius IX, Chief Seattle, Sir Charles Edward Stuart, and Pancho Villa. (via)
If anyone’s interested, the Thanatos gallery has them in order alphabetically by first name.