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Artist uses artificial intelligence to reveal what famous historical figures actually looked like

If Napoleon was captured on camera, artist uses AI to create stunningly realistic photo portraits of famous figures, including the Statue of Liberty and Michelangelo’s David

  • Amsterdam Bas Uterwijk makes realistic portraits with technology
  • The artist uses ‘deep-learning’ AI to take realistic photos of famous figures
  • Bas made almost perfect photos of Lady Liberty and Napoleon Bonaparte

A Dutch artist uses modern technology to create realistic photo-like portraits of famous figures depicted only in paint and sculpture.

Bas Uterwijk from Amsterdam said he wanted to see if he could make realistic digital representations of important faces from history, including Vincent van Gogh and Napoleon.

He also applied his talents to sculptures such as Michelangelo’s David and the Statue of Liberty.

Bas uses Artbreeder, a ‘deep-learning’ software that can create lifelike images from the beginning or based on a composition of different portraits.

The famous statue of David, by artist Michelangelo, in the Galleria dell 'Accademia in Florence in Italy

An AI-generated portrait of David shows what he probably would have looked like

An AI-generated portrait of David shows what he probably would have looked like

Amsterdam’s Bas Uterwijk can create parables of well-known historical figures with ‘deep-learning’ technology. Pictured: the famous statue of David, by artist Michelangelo, in the Galleria dell ‘Accademia in Florence, Italy, right: an AI-generated portrait of David showing what he probably would have looked like

Self-portrait by painter Vincent Van Gogh from 1889, currently on display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

Self-portrait by painter Vincent Van Gogh from 1889, currently on display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris

A photo-realistic portrait of what the impressionist painter looked like

A photo-realistic portrait of what the impressionist painter looked like

The deep learning software that Bas uses can create a realistic portrait of the impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, based on his own self-portraits in oil

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York City, built by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York City, built by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi

A realistic reproduction of the face of the image made by Bas

A realistic reproduction of the face of the image made by Bas

Bas, who also created a realistic portrait of Lady Liberty, explained that the challenge was to remain true to the person’s likeness and achieve the highest level of realism

The software uses data points – of general facial features and photographic qualities – to create an image, Bas explained to Femail.

“I try to lead the software to a credible result. I see my work more as artistic interpretations than scientifically or historically accurate, ‘said Bas.

The artist, who has completed 50 to 60 of the images generated by AI so far, said: ‘I work on a lot of images at once, sometimes leaving them for weeks to pick them up later when I have new inspiration or am tripping come to additional source material.

A painting by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the peak of his power

A painting by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the peak of his power

A portrait of Bonaparte made by Bas thanks to AI

A portrait of Bonaparte made by Bas thanks to AI

The artist returned to his portrait of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte several times to achieve better results

He started working on this original photo of the American outlaw Billy the Kid, on the left, to eventually get the portrait on the right

He started working on this original photo of the American outlaw Billy the Kid, on the left, to eventually get the portrait on the right

He started working on this original photo of the American outlaw Billy the Kid, on the left, to eventually get the portrait on the right

The first President of the United States, George Washington, was shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Arts

The first President of the United States, George Washington, was shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Arts

The realistic portrait of Washington made by Bas with Artbreeder

The realistic portrait of Washington made by Bas with Artbreeder

The software was able to take the correct picture of US President George Washington by generating data learning from thousands of pictures of human faces

Bas said the challenge of his venture was to achieve near-perfect photo-realism while remaining true to the person’s likeness, giving his models interesting expressions.

“The software tends to drift to averages by its very nature, so for the latter I sometimes need some extra tricks and methods to get what I want,” he explained.

Bas is currently working on a model by Anne Frank: ‘There are several known pictures of her, so I could make her older, at an age she never reached, ”he said.

Bas made some portraits of statues of statues or busts, such as that of the Roman emperor Caracalla on the left.  After the software created a base image, the artist said that he used additional tricks to add to the image's likeness

Bas made some portraits of statues of statues or busts, such as that of the Roman emperor Caracalla on the left.  After the software created a base image, the artist said that he used additional tricks to add to the image's likeness

Bas made some portraits of statues of statues or busts, such as that of the Roman emperor Caracalla on the left. After the software created a base image, the artist said that he used additional tricks to add to the image’s likeness

The famous portrait of Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, can be seen in the Mauritshuis, The Hague

The famous portrait of Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, can be seen in the Mauritshuis, The Hague

Bas's AI reproduction of the Girl with a Pearl Earring

Bas's AI reproduction of the Girl with a Pearl Earring

The AI ​​model can reproduce a likeness of the portrait by adding details. The software generates these details by collecting data from photos of human faces. Picture: the original portrait of the girl with the pearl by Johannes Vermeer on the left and the AI ​​model on the right

On the left a portrait of a Fayum mummy from Roman Egypt.  On the right, the AI ​​version

On the left a portrait of a Fayum mummy from Roman Egypt.  On the right, the AI ​​version

On the left a portrait of a Fayum mummy from Roman Egypt. On the right, the AI ​​version

'Self-portrait with a collar and black hat', one of Rembrandt's last self-portraits

'Self-portrait with a collar and black hat', one of Rembrandt's last self-portraits

The AI-generated realistic image of Rembrandt by Bas

The AI-generated realistic image of Rembrandt by Bas

Bas said he “guided” the deep learning software to get the most credible result. Left: one of the last self-portraits of Rembrandt, right a photo-realistic version

Portrait of Santi di Tito by stateman and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince

Portrait of Santi di Tito by stateman and diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince

A more nuanced and detailed version of Machiavelli made with AI

A more nuanced and detailed version of Machiavelli made with AI

While the likeness of a portrait is due to the skill of the painter, this AI portrait of Niccolo Machiavelli is due to data collection and Bas’s artistic flair

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