L’inconnue de la Seine: A real story?

L’Inconnue de la Seine is the 17th novel by Guillaume Musso published on September 21, 2021.


The story of the “Unknown Woman of the Seine” is a well-known news item that inspired Guillaume Musso in this novel. 


L’Inconnue de la Seine is an unidentified young woman whose presumed death mask became a popular ornament on the walls of artists’ homes after 1900. The legend of the suicide of the “drowned” takes shape in 1900. According to this, the body of the Unknown is fished out of the Seine in Paris. A morgue employee, struck by the beauty of the young woman, makes a plaster cast of her face. Over the next few years, many copies were produced and these quickly became a fashionable macabre ornament in bohemian Paris. As with the smile of the Mona Lisa, there is much speculation as to what the happy expression on her face may reveal about her life, death, and place in society.


A macabre craze which, at the time, was not shocking. Because at the turn of the century, death masks were still a common way to keep a memory of a loved one or a celebrity.


Anyway, the unknown, included in 2002 in the exhibition “The last portrait” presented at the Musée d’Orsay, has never ceased to interest artists. In addition to sculptors and painters, it bewitches photographers and writers like Guillaume Musso 


Maud Jaquet



Related Articles