In mid-19th century Paris a dead young girl was pulled from the river Seine. Her body showed no signs of distress or violence so the cause of death was listed as suicide. As was the practice in those days, unidentified bodies were displayed at the morgue in the hopes they would be identified.
A mortician was transfixed with this particular girl’s beauty and innocence and made a clay death-mask for her. Yes, this part is a little creepy.
By the end of the century, replicas of the death-mask began showing up in shops. Artists and writers of the Belle Époque were inspired by her beauty and her mystifying smile. Many copies were sold in shops and people hung her image on their walls as inspiration.
By 1926 she was given a name L’ Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine). She continue to inspire art, poems and music.
In 1958 the head Physician of the Swiss Red Cross concluded his study about the techniques of CPR. With the invention of soft plastics around the same time, work began to create a mannequin to help train people in CPR technique. The model they produced was named Resusci Anne. The face they used on Anne was none other than L’ Inconnue de la Seine.
Today 90% of people who suffer from cardiac arrest die due to the lack of CPR knowledge. 325,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year. If we all took the time to learn how to give the kiss of life, thousands of lives could be saved.