Going out in credit

It is a long established principle of English law that there is no property in a corpse. As church lawyers in the middle ages used to say in that scholarly way of theirs (with a solemn nudge and a wink), a dead person – a cadaver – is cara data vermibus: flesh given to worms.

It wasn’t until 1804, though, that the practice of arresting a corpse against a debt was made illegal.

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More than meets the eye

Yesterday’s Mail, among others, carried the pic, above, of Ronnie Biggs greeting the press at the funeral of fellow train robber Bruce Reynolds attended by the great and good of the criminal underworld. Check out the scene here

Bruce Reynolds’ son Nick is a member of the Alabama Three whose song Woke Up This Morning is the title music to the Sopranos. There’s a neat symmetry there, perhaps.

You may recall that Nick is also a sculptor and specialist in death masks. We last brought you to his attention back in 2010 in this post, which describes the cast he took of a freshly executed prisoner in the US. Don’t just glide over that link and pass on. Check it out. It’s an extraordinary story. Here it is again

Nick is one of the essayists in the latest Natural Death Handbook and a friend of its compiler, Rupert Callender, whom Nick has appointed official undertaker to the ‘Bamas. 

Now check out that Nick story.

The Art of Portrait Sculpture

“Death Mask Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1769-1830”

Can be seen at Presence: The Art of Portrait Sculpture

With portraits by artists from Giacometti to Ron Mueck, Presence is a terrific gathering of people carved, cast, modelled in clay or turned to stone. The Observer’s Laura Cumming takes a look at some of the works on show

Presence: The Art of Portrait Sculpture is at the Holburne Museum, Bath, until 2 September