Il Dattore – The Doctor

The bird mask in the medieval European tradition is a sinister reminder of mortality –  plague doctors wore beaked masks stuffed with herbs to fight off infection.  In Commedia dell’Arte theatre the character who wore this mask, Il Dattore, exemplified the pompous faux scholar, talking in bad Latin and taking on completely unjustified airs and graces.

Trying out a couple of mask shapes in minature (paperclay)

My goal is to create a simplified shape in paperclay that will lend itself to finishing with a fine mosaic.  The long-beaked version proved difficult to construct without building an elaborate support, so in the full scale version (slightly larger than lifesize) I went for a shorter beak.  Currently drying, before being hollowed out and prepared for bisque firing.

full sized bird mask, paperclay
An engraving of Dr. Schnabel, a plague doctor in Rome, 1656.

More on Dr Schnabel’s costume

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s