When World War I ended, countless soldiers emerged from the trenches with indelible psychological—and physical—wounds. Advances in weapon technology had changed the nature of battle and had also increased the frequency of facial injuries.
These scarred veterans visited a place they dubbed “The Tin Noses Shop”—the 3rd London General Hospital’s Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department. There, they sought facial reconstructive procedures. As surgeons and artists began making advances in the art of plastic surgery, their efforts caught the notice of an American sculptor named Anna Coleman Ladd, who had married a doctor.
After consulting with Francis Derwent Wood, an artist and founder of the Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department, Ladd opened up the Studio for Portrait Masks in Paris. She created metal facial prosthetics that resembled the soldier’s original features, taking plaster casts of their faces and crafting full or partial masks out of copper that she painted to look like skin. Ladd's work significantly contributed to the field of anaplastology, a branch of medicine that uses prosthetics to restore disfigured parts of the human body.
You can take a tour of Ladd’s studio in the 1918 silent film above, which provides a fascinating glimpse at how she used her talent to help the medical community rehabilitate soldiers’ bodies—and lives.
All images courtesy of YouTube.
[h/t Public Domain Review]