In 1900, the body of an unidentified young woman,
an apparent suicide, was pulled from the river Seine in Paris.
Enchanted by the mysterious corpse’s beauty, a morgue worker made a
plaster cast of the woman’s face. Copies of this “drowned Mona Lisa,”
as Camus would later describe her, soon proliferated across Paris,
appearing first in the city’s salons and finally in its literature.
Nabokov wrote a poem titled “L’Inconnue de la Seinne.” Rilke mentioned
her in his only novel. Man Ray photographed her. A character in Louis
Aragon’s novel Aurélien tries to resurrect her.
In the The Savage God: A Study of Suicide, Al Alvarez writes, “I am told that a whole generation of German girls modeled their looks on her… the Inconnue became the erotic ideal of the period, as Bardot was for the 1950s.”
In 1958, the Inconnue was used as the model for the face of Rescue
Annie, a popular CPR training mannequin still in use today. Hers is
perhaps the most kissed face of all time.
--Athanasius Kircher Society
Here is the modern incarnation of L'inconnue -- Rescue Annie:
The photo is from Benovici.ch