Much has been made of this reference and other versions of the "life masks", particularly by David Wilson in the British Arts Journal, Vol. X no. 1; David Coke in the Sculpture Journal, Vol.16.2; and at the Ruth Rendall unveiling at the Handel House at 25 Brook Street, Mayfair, London in 2009 and then in subsequent Handel House publications.
My own belief is that none of these authors have had the opportunity to inspect the other versions of the Roubiliac Handel busts (the Grimsthorpe terracotta or the Gloucester Cathedral plaster) at close quarters and to make comparisons and that the so called "Life mask" is a cast of a version of the bareheaded and late generation and much over painted Roubiliac plaster bust of Handel.
after Hubert-François Gravelot (né Bourguignon)
Possibly lot 35 on the second day (21 February) of the John Blackwood sale at Christie’s in 1778, ‘Roubiliac, marble busto of Handel, on a pedestal’.
Prior to its sale at Christie's in 1900, the present bust was recorded in Morrison's collection in the 1890 Handel entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, there described as being by Roubiliac; the attribution is likely to have been given by the then Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Sir George Scharf, who was very familiar with Roubiliac's work (info from Sotheby's catalogue.
Morrison sale, Christie's London, 10 February 1900, lot 107;
Acquired by S. T. Gooden (later, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox) London, on commission for one Charles Eley, probably the Chairman of Eley Brothers, the well-known manufacturer of firearms cartridges.
Early 21st Century -rediscovered in Belgium by a London dealer.