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Restoring Appearances Of People Through Machine Learning Technology


We often wonder what famous historical figures actually looked like. Sure, there are paintings and sometimes statues of those people but how much can we trust them. At the end of the day, those are artworks, they’re subjective. They are depictions of how the artist saw the person, and in many cases, if the person was famous and powerful they were depicted to look better than they actually did.

Benjamin Franklin

Unfortunately, photography didn’t exist back in the day so it’s really hard to know for sure what a person looked like. But a photographer from Amsterdam, Bas Uterwijk, has found a way to create the most realistic looking “photographs” of historical figures.


Bas uses a special software that can recreate really photographic looking pictures of people based on the information and images you put in. The results are kind of mindblowing. This technology can also create an image of a person based on millions of other photographs.

Vincent van Gogh

Bas says that while he can’t claim his pictures are any kind of scientific proof of what these historical figures looked like, but to him, these look way more realistic than the paintings.

Queen Elizabeth I

Basically, people have looked pretty much the same for thousands of years now. The only difference is the fashion and hairstyles. Obviously, we also have advances in medicine that can correct certain things about our features if we want to, but the basic structure of human faces and our features now aren’t really that far off from those of people who lived hundreds of years ago.

Statue of Liberty

So Bas just puts in the information required and the machine learning tech creates the image for him. The only thing he does have to go and fix a little with photoshop is hairstyles because the software doesn’t do historical hairstyles just yet. But he says it’s constantly being updated and it develops and learns really quickly, so over time he expects it’ll be possible to make even more realistic looking images of historical figures and famous people from the past.

Jesus Christ

Bas also likes to use this technology for art purposes. He often posts images on Instagram of people that look very real and sort of familiar. They might look like someone you know, but in reality, they’re a mix of various features of some famous people and some other random people.

Sandro Botticelli

The result, however, is an image of a person that doesn’t exist. Isn’t it crazy? You can get a photograph of a person who literally has never existed and was just fully created by a program yet it looks so real.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Bas is nearing 10k followers on Instagram and we expect that his audience will only grow. If you want to see more of his unique creations and follow his unique art project we suggest you follow him on social media. He’s already got quite a collection of “photographs” of made-up people, and the fans of his art are having a blast trying to figure out who they are in the comments.

Michelangelo’s David

Who knows if these “photographs” are actually closer to real life and better at restoring appearances of historical figures, but it’s certainly fun to take a look at what Van Gogh, Napoleon, Rembrandt, Sandro Botticelli, Niccolò Machiavelli, Michelangelo’s David and others might’ve looked like if you could actually take a photograph of them. It’s like a really confusing time travel journey but through AI created photographs.