Recreating Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Face Using Death Masks Reveals a Different Persona

A team of researchers from the University of Dundee has successfully reconstructed the countenance of Bonnie Prince Charlie, showcasing his appearance during his leadership of the ill-fated 18th-century Jacobite rebellion, a bid to reclaim the British throne for his father.

The reconstructed image of Bonnie Prince Charlie presents him with fair, curly hair, wide-eyed gaze, and facial acne, unveiling an aspect of his persona distinct from the conventionally heroic depiction that has been historically attributed to him.

Barbora Veselá, a master’s student specializing in forensic art and facial imaging at the University of Dundee, who crafted the image, shared her intention: “I aimed to depict him as an ordinary, relatable individual, considering that he was merely 24 years old and possessed personal interests and diverse inclinations.” Speaking to , Veselá continued, “My aim was not to highlight his royal status, despite its undeniable presence. Rather, I sought to present an alternative perspective.”

The basis for this portrayal was death masks of the prince, which were meticulously photographed and mapped. It was a customary practice during that era for prominent figures to have plaster casts created from their faces after their demise, according to the university’s press release.

Leveraging cutting-edge software, the researchers developed 3D models that facilitated the process of “de-aging” the prince’s visage, as noted by the university. Veselá’s supervisor, Tobias Houlton, an instructor in forensic art and facial imaging, described the final result as possessing a craft-like quality, telling , “The finished piece almost resembles a manually crafted model.”

Charles Edward Stuart, officially known as the grandson of exiled Catholic King James II, spearheaded an ill-fated Jacobite uprising in 1745 at the age of 24, with aspirations to restore his father to the British throne. Following an initial thwarted attempt at invasion with French support in 1744 due to storms, he embarked on a subsequent campaign a year later, accompanied by a modest contingent of around a dozen men. His charisma and charm kindled a revolt in Scotland, leading him as far south as Derby and earning him the moniker “Bonnie Prince Charlie.”

Yet, the rebellion ultimately met defeat, and it took several months for him to successfully evade to the European continent, leaving behind a memory of his uprising that has since been romanticized.

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