There is a possibility that these busts are life masks rather than those taken at death but the calmness and serenity that is so apparent here would suggest that life had probably passed, their memory being beautifully upheld. Please see our archive for a pair of life masks of African servants, which were 18thC, and were thus more animated. There are no signatures or marks to provide any further clues but in our experience of sourcing masks we believe these to probably be from the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Death masks are an impression or cast of the face of a deceased person, usually made by oiling the skin and taking a plaster cast of the features, and are the most haunting mementos of the deceased. They have been in existence since the time of Tutankhamun, whose solid gold burial mask is an object of extreme beauty and superstition. Such masks could be used either in a funerary effigy or as a model for a posthumous portrait. It was important that a death mask was made as soon as possible after death so that the character of the deceased was captured before the features started to fall.
Massively intriguing, achingly beautiful.