American Sculptor Helped Disfigured World War I Soldiers In Most Amazing Way

Anna Coleman Ladd was a brilliant sculptor, but you might not have ever heard of her unless you are very up on your 20th century American artists, or live in the Boston area. She founded the Guild of Boston Artists and her work was exhibited in their shows. She's the artist who created the 'Triton Babies', a beautiful sculpture on display in the Boston Public Garden. Her most amazing work, however, has been on display in more discreet ways.

Born and Educated

Ladd, born Anna Coleman Watts, was born in Philadelphia and studied sculpture in Paris and Rome. She moved to Boston in 1905 with her husband, Dr. Maynard Ladd, and continued to study with the Boston Museum School. Her talent was noteworthy, but her life took a turn when she and her husband moved to France.


Ladd's Inspiration

It was in France where Ladd met Francis Derwent Wood. World War I was coming to an end, and the battle scars that many soldiers sustained in combat were heartbreaking. Wood was a sculptor who created tin masks to help disguise severe war wounds of veterans. He would attempted to make a replica of the man's original likeness so that the soldier could go on with his life again.


Debilitating Disfigurement

There were men who had lost noses, parts of their jaw or had gaping holes where their mouths once were. In those days, reconstructive surgical techniques were either not advanced enough or cost-prohibitive, so many of these men would have no other option but to withdraw from society. They not only lost their looks, they lost their dignity and their ability to take part in the world.


Ladd Creates Prosthetics

Ladd was so inspired by Wood's work and felt such compassion for disfigured veterans that she began making prosthetics as well. Her work actually became a field of study, known as 'anaplastology', the art and science of reconstructing anatomy by use of artificial means.


Ladd's Sculptures

Veterans with serious facial wounds would go to Ladd's studio and she would make a cast of their face. She would then make a plasticine form, and construct a mask using galvanized copper.


Realistic Looking

The hard metal would help both hide and protect the face, and give the man normal-appearing features. She would use enamel paint to enhance the details and make it look like the subjects actual skin tone.


Adding Hair

Lad was so meticulous about her mask-making that she would even use real hair to create eyelashes, eyebrows or mustaches on the masks.


Wearing the Masks

Recipients of masks would wear them using ‘temples’, similar to the arms of eyeglasses that hook around the ears to hold them up. Some would utilize strings and tie behind the head.



Ladd was honored for her charity work in 1932 by the Legion of Honor by the French Government. What an amazing way to share a gift!

Source: Bored Panda

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