The Human Touch

Making Art | Leaving Traces

Dead hand

The writer and illustrator William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863) was discovered dead in his bed on the morning of Christmas Eve 1863, aged 52. The next morning, a death mask of his face and a cast of his right hand were made. The clenched fist is a frozen memorial of the once vital instrument of his creative life.

Domenico Brucciani (1815–1880)
The hand of William Makepeace Thackeray
25 December 1863 
Plaster cast, 19.5 x 9.5 x 7 cm
Bequeathed by Sir Herbert Thompson, 1944

Section: Three

Dead hand
Fitzwilliam Museum
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