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A domino mask is a small, rounded mask covering only the eyes and the space between them. Since the 18th century, domino masks have been traditionally worn during the festive season of Carnival. Venetian Carnival masks were known as domini because they resembled French priests' winter hoods, being black on the outside and white on the inside. The name ultimately derives from the Latin dominus, meaning "lord" or "master."
In comic book and popular culture, a domino mask indicates that a superhero/heroine wishes to maintain his/her secret identity; at the same time the mask actually obscures little of the facial features that make the character recognizable. For example, Batman's sidekick Robin, the Lone Ranger and Zorro wear a domino mask. A domino mask is very similar to a masquerade mask, except it is not as embellished or decorated.
The original designs for Batman utilised a simple domino mask as part of his disguise, like his sidekick Robin, but Batman co-creator Bill Finger suggested that Bob Kane give him a cape and cowl instead.
A black domino style mask is also a form of signifier commonly used in television production, filmmaking, and especially cartoons as the stereotypical attire of a bank robber or burglar. This variation is therefore known as the burglar mask or bandit mask. The famous Executioner, Jack Ketch (especially when he appears as a puppet in the popular Punch and Judy puppet show), wore a domino mask.
La Femme au Masque
La Femme au Masque affair involved Madame Camille du Gast in three discrete court cases in Paris in 1902. In 1885 Henri Gervex painted La Femme au Masque (The Masked Model), a notorious picture of his 22-year-old model Marie Renard standing naked apart from 'un masque domino' concealing her face. Her identity was never publicly revealed, causing great speculation and many accusations over time.
In 1902, during hostile family legal proceedings Maître Barboux, the barrister (lawyer, advocate (avocat)) accused Madam du Gast of having posed for the picture, and he handed a photograph of the painting around the court. She retaliated by bringing a legal action against Barboux, but even though both Henri Gervex and Marie Renard appeared for her, she lost, possibly because Barboux's character assassination was considered 'normal practice' in France. After Barboux left the court he was confronted by M. de Marcilly and Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord, the Prince de Sagan, her close friend, admirer and suitor, who punched him in the face (or gave him two slaps) and called him 'an insulter'. In September 1902 both of the men who had championed du Gast in this fashion were prosecuted at the 'Palais de Justice', the Prince was fined 500 francs and de Marcilly 100 francs. This salacious scandal was newsworthy around the world, being reported in detail in New Zealand and Australia, the West Gippsland Gazette waxing lyrical about her exotic appearance, demeanour, achievements and intellect.
- Daniels, Les. Batman: The Complete History. Chronicle Books, 1999. ISBN 0-8118-4232-0, pg. 21, 23
- National Library of Australia, Trove digital archive. West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul, Vic. : 1898 - 1930) Tuesday 23 September 1902. THE MASKED WOMAN, ANOTHER PHASE.
- Papers Past National Library of New Zealand. Auckland Star, Rōrahi XXXIII, Putanga 224, 20 Mahuru 1902, LA FEMME AU MASQUE - Another Phase
- National Library of Australia, Trove digital archive. West Gippsland Gazette (Warragul, Vic. : 1898 - 1930) Tuesday 16 September 1902. THE MASK MYSTERY - A PARIS SENSATION.
- Jean Francois Bouzanquet (2009). Fast Ladies: Female Racing Drivers 1888 to 1970. Veloce Publishing Ltd. pp. 13–15. ISBN 978-1-84584-225-3.