Here’s a photorealistic portrait that imagines what George Washington would look like if he were a politician in the present day instead of back in the 18th century.
The “Photoshopped” portrait was created by Redditor /u/KingBaboon97 and shared on the subreddit /r/interestingasf***/, where it received over 212,000 upvotes and hit the front page of Reddit.
“I’m a history nerd with an overactive imagination,” KingBaboon97 tells PetaPixel. “I’ve always looked these amazing portraits of historical figures and said ‘Yeah but how close did they get really?'”
The world’s oldest surviving photo by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was captured in 1826, 27 years after Washington passed away at the age of 67, so there isn’t any photographic record of what the first president of the United States looked like. However, there are a number of iconic portraits of Washington made during his lifetime, and these are the paintings that were referenced to create this “photo”.
“I’ve been reluctant to discuss the intricacies of my process for fear of scrutiny from the real pros,” the creator continues. “I don’t claim to be the best Photoshop wizard out there. But I will say that I fired up Photoshop and began looking at paintings of Washington. I collected a bunch and discerned commonalities between them all, as they vary from artist to artist.”
Here are a few famous portraits of Washington by Gilbert Stuart, for reference:
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To create a face that resembles those paintings, KingBaboon97 found portraits of living people who have facial features like Washington’s.
“Using a base photo of politician Roger Williams and some source images of people with the features I was looking for (Michael Douglas, Glenn Close), I began merging them into a single person — my idea of Washington as a modern politician,” the creator says.
The project was lighthearted and done on a whim, so even KingBaboon97 was surprised by how viral his creation turned out to be.
“If I had known it’d get this kind of coverage, I would have spent more time on it, haha,” KingBaboon97 says. “Got his age correct, fixed a few things.”