Creating photorealistic portraits of Roman Emperors using their sculptures

August 18, 2020





Artist Daniel Voshart has taken it upon himself to create photorealistic portraits of Roman Emperors using machine learning applied to images of their busts.

Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, I have created photoreal portraits of Roman Emperors. For this project, I have transformed, or restored (cracks, noses, ears etc.) 800 images of busts to make the 54 emperors of The Principate (27 BC to 285 AD).

Artistic interpretations are, by their nature, more art than science but I've made an effort to cross-reference their appearance (hair, eyes, ethnicity etc.) to historical texts and coinage. I've striven to age them according to the year of death -- their appearance prior to any major illness.

My goal was not to romanticize emperors or make them seem heroic. In choosing bust / sculptures, my approach was to favor the bust that was made when the emperor was alive. Otherwise, I favored the bust made with the greatest craftsmanship and where the emperor was stereotypically uglier -- my pet theory being that artists were likely trying to flatter their subjects.

You can buy a print with all the portraits on Voshart's Etsy page. Obviously some artistic liberties were taken, but it'd be cool to apply the same methodology to, say, the Venus de Milo. No, you're the pervert. I'm just an appreciator of art. Sexy, naked, art.

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