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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Celebrities by the Old Masters

Liv Tyler as seen by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
(based upon a portrait of the Comtesse d'Haussenville).
Today, let's have some fun. Sometimes people like myself, who write daily about art and artists, come to take ourselves and our area of expertise too seriously--perhaps way to seriously. We also take art and artists from the past too seriously as well, often at the expense of equally talented artists today working and struggling to rise above the "average" (best of the worst and worst of the best) other artists in trying to make a name for themselves. Likewise, at times (perhaps not often enough) I'm aware that some of the best contemporary artist today use brushes with names stamped on them like Logitech, HP, Microsoft, and Apple (batteries not included). Moreover some of their work is truly astounding, on a par with many, if not most, of the artist from eras long past.
Angelina Jolie as seen by Rogier van der Weyden.
Except possibly when they painted nude models, artists of the past likely didn't have nearly as much fun with their crude, homemade brushes as digital artists do today with their high-tech laser mice (mouses?) However, one thing artists both now and then had going for them, their models were usually rich and famous as well as very often quite beautiful. Which makes me wonder, if the 15th-century Dutch artist, Rogier van der Weyden were painting today, might he choose to paint...ohh, lets say Angelina Jolie (above)? what might the results be?

Tom Selleck as a 19th-century Russian general as seen by Replace the Face and the British painter, George Dawe.
There are even Websites such as Replace the Face (above) and Worth1000 (top) which specialize in such digital magic. Basically such art demands a modest to exceptional talent in using photo editing software (usually Photoshop) and a steady hand on the brush (excuse me, mouse). That part is all technical, of course. The real art is in an astute eye for selecting compatible images (both the celebrity photo and that of the original artist's work). Head angles must match, the size and the quality of the images should be similar, and the lighting must (above all) be identical. The other factors can be adjusted with a little time, effort, patience, and experience. Adjusting the facial lighting to be compatible between two photos is, quite frankly, more trouble than it's worth (this is supposed to be fun, remember).

Brandon Routh as Superman morphed from Raphael's
Christ Blessing, from 1505.
Above can be seen the "after" and "before" images which hopefully shed light on what I mentioned above. First, notice that the two resulting figures are not identical. Quite apart from the obvious--the faces, the chest tattoo, and the nail prints. The artist has also slimmed down Superman and draped his cape over both shoulders of his figure. If this seems sacrilegious, keep it mind it's a comparison dating back decades and one many consider quite apt. Superman's silly grin might be a bit over the top, though. Below are some other celebrities as if painted by the old master. At the bottom is a "celebrity" I tried rendering myself. It's myself by myself.

Mick Jagger as seen by Franz Hals.

Justin Bieber as a prince (probably based on a
Dawe portrait of a Russian general).
David Bowie as Caravaggio's Bacchus.
Leonardo DiCaprio as seen by van Gogh.

Vin Diesel as Michelangelo's David.

Jim Lane, based upon Raphael's
Portrait of Baldassarre Castiglione, 1516



  1. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. academyfinepaintings

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I should note there are no "you guys" it's just me, myself, and I, banging away that this effort about five or six hour a day (depending on the topic).

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