Historic Selfies

Historic Selfies

Northern Irish Designer turns 16th century portraits into photorealistic pictures

Mona Lisa, Rembrandt, Raphael and The Blue Boy seen as they would have looked in real life for the very first time

· Series of four classic paintings have been transformed into photo-realistic recreations, using photography and digital manipulation, to reveal what the subjects would have really looked like for the first time
· Artworks included Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, iconic self-portraits by grandmasters Rembrandt and Raphael and Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy
· Mona Lisa smile – centuries-old mystery solved
· Creative team behind the transformations was led by Northern Ireland’s leading digital artist Quentin Devine
· TV channel Yesterday and UKTV Play commissioned the art project to celebrate Raiders of the Lost Art

Rembrandt, Raphael, the Mona Lisa and The Blue Boy have all been rendered as photorealistic ‘selfie’ style portraits in an incredible new digital art project, which shows how some of the most famous painters and paintings in history would have looked had camera technology been invented in the 16th century.

Historic Selfies

The photorealistic images of the Mona Lisa and The Blue Boy, and the self-portraits by grandmasters Rembrandt and Raphael used a complex combination of skilled photography and styling of models as well as digital manipulation, in a project commissioned by Yesterday and UKTV Play to celebrate Raiders of the Lost Art (Yesterday, 2pm, weekdays from 9 November, catch-up on UKTV Play), which tells the stories behind missing masterpieces including the Mona Lisa. The famous painting was stolen in 1911 in an Italian heist and not recovered for two years.

Each of the portraits was first painstakingly photographed using a lookalike model with styling and makeup to match the original painting, before final touches were made by a digital artist to create the best recreation of the iconic compositions – each taking a total of 36 hours to complete.

Rembrandt - Made Over

The creative team, led by the UK’s leading digital artist Quentin Devine, from County Tyrone, and including a photographer, stylist and makeup artist, worked together to transform the four models into their classical painting counterparts – revealing to the public what the subject of these portraits would have looked like in real life. The team focussed on matching the styling, lighting, textures and overall composition of the paintings to produce the most detailed match of the original painting as possible, while staying true to a realistic photograph.

Revealing the fascinating true stories behind historic artworks including the Mona Lisa, which was infamously stolen from the Louvre in 1911, Raiders of the Lost Art follows art detectives and forensic art analysts as they hunt down missing masterpieces, and through rare archival footage, re-enactment, and expert commentary, reveal how these treasures vanished into thin air and how not all have been recovered.

The series – airing weekdays from 9th November, 2pm on Yesterday and available to catch up on UKTV Play – tells the fascinating stories behind such famous heists as the Mona Lisa, the looted Nazi trove, and the missing Fabergé eggs created for Russian tzars.

Historic Selfies

Adrian Wills, general manager for Yesterday, says, “It’s extraordinary to see familiar historic individuals we’ve only ever seen rendered in oil, through a modern photographic lens. We commissioned this series of artfully digitised images to encourage people to watch ‘Raiders of the Lost Art’ on the Yesterday channel, and to learn more about the fascinating history behind the world’s most iconic paintings.

“It’s incredible that we can finally see what grandmasters Raphael and Rembrandt would have looked like in real life. They could never have imagined their paintings could be recreated so accurately more than three centuries later!

“People have pondered for centuries on Mona Lisa’s ambiguous facial expression – was she smiling or frowning? This recreation indicates it was indeed a smile, and she was perhaps more beautiful than the painting suggests.”

Digital artist Quentin Devine says, “This was a fascinating project to work on, if not a bit intimidating when trying to imitate the skill of some of the most famous painters in history! Myself and the team have tried to create the most photo-realistic representation of these iconic artworks as we can, bringing them into the modern world for the first time.”

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