Many of us have imagined what famous figures from history truly looked like. Were Elizabeth I’s portraits too flattering? Does that bust of Caesar really capture his likeness? And did the Mona Lisa actually look like that? Well, you needn’t wonder any longer, as one graphic designer has turned her photoshop talents to the recreation of historic faces for the modern age!
Becca Saldin, who lives in Texas, has been fascinated by Tudor history since she was a child, when her dad read her a historical fiction novel based on Anne Boleyn. She also enjoys Egyptian history (mummies particularly) and the Roman catastrophe of Pompeii, when a town was frozen in time due to a volcanic eruption.
Take a look at some of our favourites. You can view more of Becca’s work on her Instagram page here, or support her through Patreon, which comes with perks such as being able to suggest her next historical project!
1) Elizabeth I – the Pearl Queen is shown with her trademark flaming red hair, piled atop her head, and pointed features. There are a few tell-tale wrinkles at her eyes, revealing her her age, in comparison to the flattering portrait.
2) Tutankahum – this is based on a well-researched bust created by an expert team in 2005. Reigning from c. 1334 – 1325 BC, some of his features are thought to be from inbreeding within the Egyptian royal family. Tut married his own half-sister.
3) Louis XIV – famed for his lavish lifestyle and the creation of Versailles, Louis ruled France from 1643 – 1715. We can certainly see this suited gentleman as a man of power and means, based on a portrait of him around the age of 23.
4) Pocahontas – a Native American, Pocahontas was really called Matoaka and was the daughter of chief Powhatan. She is remembered for her association with the colonial settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. In 1614 she married a settler, John Rolfe, and was converted to Christianity, and called Rebecca. Two years later, she travelled to England, and was later presented at the English Court, as an example of a ‘civilised’ native.
5) Richard III – the King found under a carpark has a reputation for *not* being Mr Nice Guy. Does this reputation seep through to his modern portrait too? Or does he seem softer?
6) Mary, Queen of Scots – Mary met a sticky end when she was involved in a plot to overthrow her cousin, Elizabeth I, but she was known for her height (roughly 5ft 11) and her red hair.
7) Genghis Khan – this Emperor created his expansive domain by uniting the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia, practising meritocracy and religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire. When Khan set out on his military quests, he usually took one of his many wives with him, and left the others (and his concubines) to manage the empire.
8) Anne Boleyn – this Tudor Queen has long thought to have been unconventional in her beauty. She was dark, and not fair, but this recreation of her for 2020 brings a sense of modern radiance to this well-recognised face.
9) Prince Albert – Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, Albert charmed his future wife with his looks and talents. The modern hair do and his moustache make him feel like a real 21st century person.
10) Julius Caesar – arguably the most famous Roman Emperor, he cuts a striking figure made of flesh, rather than stone!