Image via Wikipedia
No one ever found out who she was.
And yet likenesses of her death mask adorned the walls of countless artists at the dawn of the twentieth century and inspired writers to poetry and story.
Her name? “L’Inconnue de la Seine.” The unknown woman of the Seine. A beautiful pale mask, representing someone who must have been breathtakingly beautiful in life. And the strangest thing is that she is smiling enigmatically.
It did not take long for the people of Paris to spin a tale to match her beauty.
In the early hours of a morning in 1888, the gendarmes supervised the retrieving of a young woman’s body from the Quai De Louvre, in Paris. There were no signs of violence on her body and the authorities suspected suicide.
It was the lovestruck pathologist, the legend goes, who took a look at her young face – he estimated her to be no more than 16 years old – and summoned someone to take a mask immediately.
There is a more mundane explanation in which she was the daughter of a German mask manufacturer. But why let possible truth spoil a good story?
Europe went potty about her. She was compared to the Mona Lisa, she appeared in books by Rainer Maria Rilke and countless others, and a poem by Vladimir Nabokov.
How is it that one of our first reactions to seeing something beautiful to us, and extraordinary, is to want to copy it?
Like the face of God, for example? Or at least, the God particle creator, the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sascha Mehlhase, a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, decided to model the ATLAS detector, one of seven detectors which make up the experiment, according to Tecca.com.
He tried using Lego’s designer software but managed to generate a 4,500 page manual. So he opted to go it alone.
Around 80 hours and 8,500 bricks later, a creditable model of the detector stood almost two feet tall. It included tiny Lego figures and passages with which they could access the detector’s innermost workings.
It was naff all help in discovering whether the Higgs Boson particle exists. But it was the direct result of awe and wonder. Imitation being, as they say, the sincerest form of flattery.
We should feel proud and pleased, then, with a model which has appeared in Imagine Denmark, the Danish hospitality house which has taken over St Katherine Docks for the duration of the Olympics.
For Lego artist Warren Elsmore has fashioned the Olympic complex at Stratford entirely out of Lego bricks. It includes the Olympic Stadium, the Orbit Tower and the Olympic Village. Warren’s there manning it, in a black Lego polo: it is completely free of charge.
So once you have wondered round the real thing you can pop in and gaze at the 250,000 brick complex. And marvel, once at the original creation, and then, at this perfect, affectionate piece of Lego-brick mimicry.
Thanks to Caroline of the brilliant London sistory site Caroline’s Miscellany, for the Lego pic: you can find her account of her visit to the village here