Artist Reimagines What Historical Icons Would Look Like Today

Graphic designer Becca Saladin uses historical pieces of art, such as the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti, to recreate historical icons as they might appear in present times. Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock

Forensic facial reconstruction has provided a window into the faces of some of history’s most influential people, from the believed visage of Jesus Christ to the misshapen head of Julius Caesar. Taking a more playful spin, a 29-year-old graphic design artist has made it her social media duty to reconstruct iconic figures through the ages to offer a glimpse of what they might look like today, trendy clothes and all.

Becca Saladin is the mastermind behind the transformed images. She writes that she has been working in graphic and web design, and has 193,000 followers on her Instagram page, Royalty Now.

"I mostly think it's just fun, but I also think it's important to recognize them as real people and not just actors in the stories we know. I think seeing them as more modern people humanizes them," Saladin told IFLScience. "And yes, my process is basically that I choose a base stock photo that represents something similar to the way they could dress and wear their hair today, and then I get into photoshop." 

The results can sometimes take hours, depending on how complicated the original artwork is. Bust reconstructions take the longest because "it's basically a photocomposition mixed with a digital painting on top." Saladin digitally paints and layers modern details into all of her pieces. 

Tutankhamun

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Tutankhamun may have ruled the 18th dynasty of Egypt’s New Kingdom for a decade, but in 2020 he looks like any other boy band member.

“This recreation of King Tut has long been my favorite, and was created in 2005 when two teams were tasked with recreating what King Tut may have looked like,” wrote Saladin, noting that the representation shows features that may have been the result of inbreeding, like his overbite and chin.  

The image was made in collaboration with forensic artist Elisabeth Daynes.

Nefertiti

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On the subject of Egyptian royalty, Saladin turned to the world-famous bust created by the sculptor Thutmose for her reconstruction of the “stunning” Queen Nefertiti. The famed bust has made the queen, whose name means “the beautiful one has come,” one of the most recognizable queens of Ancient Egypt.

Elli’s Venus

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For Valentine’s Day, the graphic designer shared a reconstruction of Sandro Botticelli’s famous 1485 painting depicting “Birth of Venus”, which shows the goddess of love and beauty arriving on the island of Cyprus.

Genghis Kahn

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The only known portrait of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire, was the muse for this modern take on the ruthless leader. Khan is responsible for millions of deaths during the 12th century – he was also known for forbidding anyone from painting or sculpting his likeness.

“Similar to the depiction of Cleopatra, there are differing descriptions on what his coloring was. Some claimed he had red hair and green eyes, others claimed he had features very similar to East Asian populations today,” writes Saladin, adding that this was the oldest and most stylized portrait that she had ever worked with.

Keep scrolling for more favorites from @royalty_now_ published in no particular order. You can support the designer through her fundraising page here

Abraham Lincoln

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Benjamin Franklin 

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Mona Lisa

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Henry VIII

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Anne Boleyn

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Queen Elizabeth I

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Jane Austen

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Agrippina The Younger, Mother To Emperor Nero

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Julius Caesar

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Alexander The Great

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