Art Blog

Lifelike Portraits of Famous Historical Figures

Artist Bas Uterwijk uses artificial intelligence software to bring historical characters to life.

Is this artificial intelligence or a time machine?

as Uterwijk, an Amsterdam-based visual designer, is using AI to create extremely lifelike photographs of historical figures and monuments from Vincent van Gogh and Michelangelo’s David to the Statue of Liberty. Using a program called Artbreeder, which is described as “deep learning software”. Uterwijk, who has worked on computer games and visual graphics for the world’s biggest companies, then “fills in the blanks” of features such as hairstyles, clothes and eye colour. He builds his photographs based on a compilation of portraits, uses the program to pinpoints common facial features and photograph qualities to produce an image.

“I try to guide the software to a credible outcome. I think of my work more as artistic interpretations than scientifically or historically accurate,” the artist tells the outlet. On Instagram, he details the many variations that go into creating his work.

Vincent van Gogh (left), “Self-Portrait,” 1889, and an AI re-creation by Bas Uterwijk.

Queen Elizabeth I portrait by William Segar, 1585, and an AI re-creation by Bas Uterwijk

The Statue of Liberty 1875, and an AI re-creation by Bas Uterwijk

Self-portraits of Dutch painter Rembrandt, and an AI re-creation by Bas Uterwijk

A 1790 portrait of George Washington and an AI re-creation by Bas Uterwijk