this self-portrait of the Italian Symbolist sculptor, Adolfo Wildt, is sometimes referred to as the Mask of Sadness

Autoritratto, Adolfo Wildt, 1868-1931

standing on the cusp of Symbolism and Expressionism: fluid surfaces of smooth marble torn from the model at the moment of paroxysm, like masks that have taken on their wearer’s emotion, and which, once removed, carry it with them.

All that remains on the face of Adolfo Wildt, after his gilded marble self-portrait, in the mask of sadness, is a touch of melancholy around the eyes. Apart from that, he is completely expressionless. Perhaps this explains the power, residing unseen, like morays, in the mask’s drooping submarine eye cavities: an absence of life, with an access and seeming surfeit of emotion. And in the mouth, where we imagine the muscularity of the tongue, nothing, but not empty air either; on the upper lip an alienation, a detached moustache attachment, like a piece of seaweed, the vibration of a recent absence made visible.