Christopher Danziger outlines the extraordinary story of how Napoleon’s death mask came to be at the Maison Française (Oxford Today, Trinity 2015). Perhaps even more surprising is that it is not the only one in Oxford. Lord Curzon (Chancellor 1907-1925) bequeathed his collection of Napoleonica to the University, where it is preserved in the Bodleian Libraries. The Sir Colin Lucas Room — the Vice-Chancellor’s reception and robing room — in the Clarendon Building is furnished and decorated with these memorabilia.
Included in the bequest (though not currently kept in the Sir Colin Lucas Room) is Napoleon’s death mask. Danziger describes how Antommarchi released a subscription edition of the mask in 1833. Sixteen copies of that are known. The same mould was also used for a re-issue of four further copies c. 1840, and one of these was later purchased by the Napoleon scholar A M Broadley. Lord Curzon (who had visited St Helena in 1908) bought much of Broadley’s collection when it was sold in 1916, and it seems likely that he acquired then the death mask now in the Bodleian.