How Historical Figures Would Have Looked Today?
May 2, 2013 6:19 AM   Subscribe

"...saw digital artists working closely with history experts to ensure the portraits gave a real sense of how historical characters would look if they were alive in the 21st Century." Come for the hilarious justifications of modern-day standards of fitness and beauty, stay for the "hipster Shakespeare."
posted by Kitteh (82 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
God Save Queen Tilda I.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:23 AM on May 2, 2013 [43 favorites]


The goggles have never done less than they are doing at this moment.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:25 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've seen photoshopped porn that looked more realistic than Marie Antoinette.
posted by DU at 6:28 AM on May 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


To replace the right arm lost after being wounded in battle, he has been given a prosthetic to wear.

Was it a donation from George Lucas?!
Is Nelly the biggest Star Wars fan ever to actually wear it?!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:28 AM on May 2, 2013


I'm pretty sure that French royalty would not shop at H&M in England.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bionic Nelson. Awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:32 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was it a donation from George Lucas?!

No, it's a modern robotic prosthetic. Not a special effect, not science fiction, real.

Also, awesome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:36 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm fond of all the booze by Antoinette... Nice touch.
posted by symbioid at 6:36 AM on May 2, 2013


I'm fond of all the booze by Antoinette... Nice touch.

I totally scanned that as "I'm fond of all the boobs by Antoinette" initially.
posted by Kitteh at 6:37 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look at all the white people!
posted by symbioid at 6:37 AM on May 2, 2013


....I want to see them do more.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:38 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Grammar. "Would look." That's all.
posted by munyeca at 6:41 AM on May 2, 2013


I like Henry VIII sporting the Eurotrash look.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:42 AM on May 2, 2013


altho marie antionnete wasn't quite a cardassian,

We'd have to judge her brow ridges to be sure. Unfortunately her head was misplaced.
posted by Think_Long at 6:43 AM on May 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'd expect them to all be 1 to 5 inches taller as well.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:43 AM on May 2, 2013


Ooh! Ooh! Do Michael Jackson!
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:45 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


altho marie antionnete wasn't quite a cardassian

This is actually an unfilmed script meant for DS9's eighth season.
posted by theodolite at 6:46 AM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


marie antionnete wasn't quite a cardassian

I don't think I'm ever going to stop being amused by the whole Kardashian/Cardassian thing. Hundreds of years from now, cultural historians are going to write papers about how Star Trek:DS9 based an imperialistic alien race on the tabloid hijinks of a bunch of spoiled trust-fund brats.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:46 AM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


How Historical Figures Would Have Looked Today?

Would?

Could? Might?
posted by mazola at 6:46 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


For Henry VIII: "Instead of the cotton shirt fastened up to the chin he now sports an unbuttoned shirt Simon Cowell style and is very much the modern day lady killer."

See, it's hilarious because he actually killed a bunch of ladies.
posted by edheil at 6:48 AM on May 2, 2013 [28 favorites]


I also thought this was pretty neat. I don't understand the skepticism (and hostility?) here. I guess this seemed plausible to me, but I'm probably not as smart as the rest of you.
posted by Buffaload at 6:53 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is actually very interesting. I've often noticed people with faces that I think belong to an earlier time. Ruth Goodman for example. Or Queen Elizabeth definitely looks like she belongs in her time. Alternatively, in some old pictures you can sometimes spot a modern face.

But just changing the clothes and hair on a lot of these people completely swapped it for me. Again Elizabeth is the best example. She looks completely modern with exactly the same face.

The moral is: I don't pay as much attention to faces as I think.
posted by DU at 6:54 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth I was in the Eurythmics?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:57 AM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


So the telegraph has decided that real person Au is the way to get hits?

Fashion history nerd that I am, I want to see it done in the opposite direction.
posted by The Whelk at 7:00 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]




I found this completely fascinating and I'd like to see more.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:03 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found it completely hilarious and I'd also like to see more. I mean, I am not the Queen of Photoshop (alas) but even I think some of these are really inept. But hilarious! I nearly wept with joy on viewing the new and improved Marie Antoinette. Nelson looks like a completely different person. "He would have put on weight because of being deskbound" bwah ha ha! That seems like kind of a major leap to make. Maybe he would be a fitness freak; by all accounts he was pretty energetic. And if you're going that far, why not have modern medicine just save his arm?
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:10 AM on May 2, 2013


Faintly wall-eyed hipster bard is illustrating what William Gibson described as a beard that looked like moss growing around a drain.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:10 AM on May 2, 2013


Hipster Shakespeare is actually based on a portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury.

(Over at Art History News, Bendor Grosvenor wonders why this portrait keeps on getting identified as Shakespeare when the evidence is so very thin. He thinks it's because 'people want Shakespeare to look like something out of the film Shakespeare in Love, and not the plain, bald man he really was'. I have a different explanation; I think it's because lazy journalists type 'Shakespeare' into Google Images and take the first picture they see.)
posted by verstegan at 7:14 AM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Shakespeare folks on my Twitter feed wish to make clear that that portrait has been identified as a misattribution for quite some time and that the illustration therefore is actually hipster Sir Thomas Overbury.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:15 AM on May 2, 2013


Jinx!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:15 AM on May 2, 2013


Darrell Hammond is Bill Clinton in The Admiral Nelson Story!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:18 AM on May 2, 2013


I don't really get the hate-on for the Marie Antoinette one. I mean, presumably contemporary wealthy young women who love fashion and are under a lot of pressure to look good do take steps to remediate their perceived flaws? Marie Antoinette strikes me as exactly the type of person who'd take steps to bring her body into line with contemporary beauty standards as well as she could.
posted by Diablevert at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2013


People aren't hating on the characterization of Marie. They are laughing at the hilarious ineptitude of the rendering.
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]




Interesting fact that I learnt today: I thought the sleeve lace on the "new" Nelson portrait was wrong because it showed him as a Vice Admiral and not an Admiral. It turns out that "Admiral" Nelson was never a full Admiral! Oh well.
posted by Jehan at 7:28 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, I looked at 'em on my phone maybe I'm not seeing the flaws on such a small screen
posted by Diablevert at 7:29 AM on May 2, 2013


I'm pretty sure I've seen Shakespeare doing coke in the bathroom of every upscale gay dance club ever.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:30 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


For Henry VIII they should have just used a picture of Matt Berry.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:30 AM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think they should have done more with the faces. Braces on teeth change people's entire head and jaw, and these figures would almost certainly all have them.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:31 AM on May 2, 2013


He has been given piercings on both ears, leaving questions about his sexuality unanswered.

Is that still a thing? I seem to remember something about men's left or right ear being pierced indicating preference back in the early 80s but haven't heard about it since then. Most men I know with earnings have them in both ears.
posted by octothorpe at 7:41 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I thought that was weird too. It's certainly not a thing in the US, at least it hasn't been since I was in junior high (early 90s) and I'm pretty sure it wasn't actually true then.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:47 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think they would look kind of shriveled up and brownish.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 7:55 AM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Elizabeth still looks slightly terrifying. One can easily imagining her calling up MI5 and ordering the "retirement" of some treasonous courtier underling, whose coke-laced corpse would be found floating off the Isle of Dogs a week later.
posted by Chrischris at 7:55 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's disturbing how Henry VIII looks like a clapped out Prince Harry. Maybe its the royal gingeriness.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:07 AM on May 2, 2013


I'd like to read some fiction that's like this. That must exist, right? A retelling of some historical event, starring all the same historical figures, but set in the modern day with contemporary technology and fashion?
posted by painquale at 8:07 AM on May 2, 2013


I seem to remember something about men's left or right ear being pierced indicating preference back in the early 80s but haven't heard about it since then.

This was a definitely a thing in the late 80s in the midwest. They used to say "Left is right [straight] and right is wrong [gay]."
posted by desjardins at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2013


I'd like to read some fiction that's like this. That must exist, right? A retelling of some historical event, starring all the same historical figures, but set in the modern day with contemporary technology and fashion?

Not prose but ...Clone High?
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The first one and last one work pretty well in my opinion. Obvs the Antonette one is just plain clumsy, and I'm not sure why they slimmed down Henry VIII, he's the fucking King with an attitude (bastard that he was) he gets to do whatever he wants and eating a lot is included in that, so I don't see him particularly giving a flying rat's ass about weight. Shakespeare is, as noted, not really Shakespeare, the Nelson was was pretty good although the prosthetic design is a little over the top, and Elizabeth I was pretty good except for the Dr Who hairstyle.

Would actually like to see more attempts, it's an interesting experiment.
posted by edgeways at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2013


Henry VIII as a Russian Oil Tycoon - I bet he owns a Premier League Team

Hipster Shakespeare is awesome, I could see him working as a Barista while he's working on writing off-off-off broadway plays.

Tilda Swinton/David Bowie Queen of England is fiercely scary

I'm not sure I see Marie as a WAG though.
posted by vuron at 8:14 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Known for her love of fashion, she would be more likely to wear a bespoke stylish and unique female suit

This is what happens when you get rid of your editors.
posted by rtha at 8:15 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hipsters have been around since Tudor times.
posted by vacapinta at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


This seems like a good place to point out that, according to this bust, modern Julius Caesar would look more or less like George W. Bush.
posted by COBRA! at 8:40 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy Caesar bitchface!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:54 AM on May 2, 2013


This was for a TV show?

/imagines listicle writers everywhere dropping dead with envy.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on May 2, 2013


Modern surgery probably would have saved Nelson's arm, anyway. I realize that he urged the surgeon to amputate immediately, but that was at a time when he knew that the odds weren't good even if he waited.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2013


William Shakespeare was a pretty wealthy impresario, in addition to being a playwright and actor... wouldn't he dress more like Andrew Lloyd Weber than a hipster?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:59 AM on May 2, 2013


I'd like to read some fiction that's like this. That must exist, right? A retelling of some historical event, starring all the same historical figures, but set in the modern day with contemporary technology and fashion?

There was Kings, that soap opera about David and Saul, but it's not quite a historical event, and lot in the show was hokey.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on May 2, 2013


I'm not sure why they slimmed down Henry VIII, he's the fucking King with an attitude (bastard that he was) he gets to do whatever he wants and eating a lot is included in that, so I don't see him particularly giving a flying rat's ass about weight

If I recall correctly, Henry was actually pretty hot and athletic as a young man; it was after a leg injury in middle age prevented him from riding and hunting and so fourth that he started to pack on the pounds.
posted by Diablevert at 9:05 AM on May 2, 2013


I'd like to read some fiction that's like this. That must exist, right? A retelling of some historical event, starring all the same historical figures, but set in the modern day with contemporary technology and fashion?

Shakespeare's plays get the treatment from time to time... Romeo and Juliet, obviously.
posted by Leon at 9:06 AM on May 2, 2013


If I recall correctly, Henry was actually pretty hot and athletic as a young man; it was after a leg injury in middle age prevented him from riding and hunting and so fourth that he started to pack on the pounds.


GIS for "Young Henry VIII portrait."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:09 AM on May 2, 2013


I'm glad that hipster Shakespeare turns out to be not Shakespeare, because I was wondering. Also, I'd love to see more of these. Now imagining Napoleon and, as someone suggested upthread, Julius Caesar.
posted by immlass at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2013


God Save Queen Tilda I. -- now I really want to see Orlando again.
posted by epersonae at 9:22 AM on May 2, 2013


I really don't mean this as snark but... It really took digital artists and historical experts three months to make just five of these? That look like this?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:47 AM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I know! Some dude from Buzzfeed could have done it in minutes, earning literally dozens of dollars.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]




vacapinta: "Hipsters have been around since Tudor times."

Oh my god. Stephen Fry has a time machine.
posted by schmod at 10:05 AM on May 2, 2013


This seems like a good place to point out that, according to this bust, modern Julius Caesar would look more or less like George W. Bush.
I take it you've never seen the Etruscan statue The Orator?

It's uncanny.
posted by Jehan at 10:07 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Holy shit.
posted by COBRA! at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2013


No kidding. Talk about your ironies.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2013


Admiral Lord Mike Meyers?

(And, previously.)

If I recall correctly, Henry was actually pretty hot and athletic as a young man; it was after a leg injury in middle age prevented him from riding and hunting and so fourth that he started to pack on the pounds.

That, and eating like a- well, a Tudor
posted by IndigoJones at 10:33 AM on May 2, 2013


Henry VIII as a Russian Oil Tycoon - I bet he owns a Premier League Team

I was gonna say Cadillac salesman, but this is perfect.
posted by scratch at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2013


Lord Nelson looks a lot like David Mitchell. Something tells me his character from Peep Show would be agog with delight at the mockup, as well as thoughts of having a robot arm earned in warfare.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:54 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would have used my robot hand for good!
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The more I look at it, the more interesting/amazing the Nelson one is. Because the faces are damn near identical, but my reaction to each is very different. What it reveals are my prejudices.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:19 AM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting - earlier today, the Henry VIII item said that he would have worn a Cuban heel to "make up for his lack of height." Now it just says "Henry has exchanged his uncomfortable flat footed shoes for modern shoes with a heel." Guess someone pointed out to them that Henry VIII was 6'2".
posted by rednikki at 1:06 PM on May 2, 2013


I like the Nelson pics. The old uniform looks so crazy and over the top but it's not really as far off from the modern model as it first seems. A lot of the bits like the braid, buttons and even the hat on the modern rendition have clear analogues to the old one.
posted by jclarkin at 1:17 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chrischris: "Elizabeth still looks slightly terrifying."

I thought the modern Elizabeth looked kind of hung over.

Still very orange. Some things never change.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:09 PM on May 2, 2013


Caligula.
posted by homunculus at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think these are fascinating because I feel I never get to see what the people actually look like in their old portraits. I'm way too distracted by all the medieval stuff around them to actually take in their faces and see them as people. The modern portraits help me do that, so I'm grateful.
posted by Skyanth at 4:13 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skyanth, in a sadder vein, you might find the recent work at Jamestown interesting. Basically the facial reconstruction of a young woman they're calling Jane, a victim of the starving times.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2013


Alan Cummings as Billy Shakes
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 AM on May 7, 2013


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