Eric Altschuler and Krista Ehinger have attempted to discover what George Washington may have actually looked like by applying a computer model to a painting of the president. The theory behind their model is that the painter who painted Washington, Gilbert Stuart, changed some elements of Washington’s appearance, and he probably made similar changes to everyone else he painted. Since some of the other people Gilbert painted survived into the age of photography, the researchers compared paintings to photos to decipher the standard way that Gilbert changed his subject’s appearance. Here’s Daniel Webster:
Then their computer “undid” all the changes it found in the photograph/painting pairs on the painting of Washington.
Interesting idea, though I have to say I’m more than a little doubtful. But then again, we’ll probably never know how right or wrong this image of Washington is.