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20 Historical Figures Reimagined As Modern Day People By Artist Becca Saladin (New Pics)

Published 4 weeks ago

Becca Saladin is an American graphic designer and the creator of Royalty Now – a project where she tries to recreate famous historical figures as modern-day people. The project attracted over 262k followers in only a year and a half and I’m pretty sure you’ll join them too once you see the artist’s amazing works.

The woman says she was into art and history since she was a child. “The first book my dad read to me about history was a fictionalized young adult version of the Anne Boleyn story. I became obsessed with Tudor history after that,” said the artist in an interview with Bored Panda. “I also loved Pompeii, ancient Egyptian mummies, and anything else that helped me feel close to the people of the past. I think that is why I enjoy making the recreations so much.”

It was Anne Boleyn’s portrait that inspired Becca to start Royalty Now. One day she was looking at her portrait and wondered how she would look like today as the paintings didn’t look very realistic. She saw someone on Reddit try something similar with the Tudor wives and Roman statues and decided to try recreating the portrait herself. “I’ve always loved Photoshop and what a powerful tool it is, so I decided to try and recreate some of my own and then just kept going,” said Becca.

We’ve already featured some of Becca’s works before here and here, and now the artist is back with a fresh batch of new ones – check them out in the gallery below!

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#1 Nefertiti

Image source: Royalty Now

This bust of Nefertiti (believed to have been sculpted during her lifetime) is famous for its grace and beauty. Nefertiti lived from approximately 1370 – 1330 BC. She was an Egyptian queen and the wife of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh. Akhenaten is famous for his attempt to transition Egypt into a monotheistic society (worshipping only the sun god, Aten), instead of a polytheistic one.

#2 Ludwig Van Beethoven

Image source: Royalty Now

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827, shown here at age 49 in 1820) doesn’t need much of an introduction. A famous composer and pianist, his music is some of the most performed classical music in the world. His work spans both the classical period and the romantic periods of classical music. Moving to Vienna at the age of 21 and gained a reputation as a virtuoso. Scholars generally divide Beethoven’s work into three periods: Early, Middle, and Late. The Early period can be seen as him honing his craft, and the Middle period shows individual deviation from the Classical styles of Mozart. During the Late period (which lasts until his death in 1827), his deafness increases, but it is widely accepted as his most innovative time. Written in his last years, his late string quartets of 1825–26 are amongst his final achievements. After some months of bedridden illness he died in 1827. Beethoven’s works remain mainstays of the classical music repertoire

#3 Cyrus The Great

Image source: Royalty Now

Cyrus II of Persia was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, which at its height encompassed the areas of modern-day Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. During a reign lasting 30 years, Cyrus grew his empire by conquering surrounding territories. Something Cyrus is famous for is that he respected the customs and religion of each land he conquered, a move unprecedented at the time. This policy was a very successful model for establishing governments that kept the territories under control even after his armies had left. He is a well-recognized figure for human rights, military strategy, and politics. Cyrus even makes an appearance in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). A cult-like figure for modern Iranians, his tomb is a gathering point for those that revere him. He was alleged to have died in battle, but his Empires’ influence still lives today.

#4 Marie Antoinette

Image source: Royalty Now

#5 Elizabeth I

Image source: Royalty Now

#6 Catherine Of Aragon

Image source: Royalty Now

This portrait is disputed to be her (it may in fact be Mary Rose Tudor)

#7 Yoruba Ruler – Bronze Ife Head

Image source: Royalty Now

Although it’s not known who this sculpture is a depiction of, this famous Bronze Head from Ife, also known as the Ife Head, is one of eighteen copper alloy sculptures that were unearthed in 1938 at Ife in Nigeria, the religious and former royal centre of the Yoruba people. Believed to represent a Yoruba Ruler, It was probably made in the thirteenth-fourteenth century AD, before any European contact had taken place with the local population. The realism of the sculptures is amazing and some of the only photorealistic depictions created in African art.

The Ife Head was likely made under the patronage of King Obalufon II, whose bronze likeness shares stylistic features with this work. These bronze heads are evidence of additional trade since Ife-made glass beads have been found widely in West Africa. The detailed work shows what are believed to be tribal markings on the face. I conducted some research into this, and found that these same tribal markings are still observed in some parts of Africa, although this practice is becoming much more rare, so I have not included him in my depiction here.

#8 Queen Nzinga

Image source: Royalty Now

Nzinga was the Queen of the Kingdom of Ndongo and the Kingdom of Matamba in the 17th century, in the area of modern-day Angola. Born into the ruling family in 1583, her father trained her in military and political tactics from a young age. While her older brother was ruling the Kingdoms, he asked Nzinga to become the ambassador to Portugal for him, as the Portuguese had begun to colonize and infringe on their native area. When Nzinga assumed power over the kingdoms after her brother died, it was during a period of unprecedented growth in the African slave trade. The Portuguese continued to agitate and break treaties, taking slaves and other valuables. Nzinga was an astute and super-intelligent leader and often bent the allegiances of the Europeans to her advantage. Forging an alliance with the Dutch, she was able to defeat the Portuguese and drive them out. She also made her kingdom a safe haven for runaway slaves. Her reign lasted 37 years – she is considered a legendary figure in Angola to this day.

#9 Erzsébet Báthory

Image source: Royalty Now

Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Erzsébet Báthory) (1560 –1614) was a Hungarian noblewoman. She has been labeled as the most prolific female serial killer in history (documented, at least). She was accused at trial of torturing and murdering hundreds of young girls & women between 1590 and 1610. The stories of her sadistic murders were verified by the testimony of more than 300 witnesses and survivors, as well as many bodies. Eyewitnesses reported seeing her carrying out severe beatings, mutilation, burning, freezing, and starving girls to death. Because of her family’s status, she was not executed but rather imprisoned for the remainder of her life in Cachtice Castle. Folklore (although unsubstantiated) about Báthory has followed her throughout history, saying she bathed in the blood of virgins. Her legacy certainly lives on in modern popular culture.

#10 George Washington

Image source: Royalty Now

Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and founding father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Before becoming the president, Washington was a leader in the nation’s Revolutionary War for Independence. Washington has been called the “Father of His Country” for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation. Washington owned slaves, and, in order to preserve national unity, he supported measures passed by Congress to protect slavery. He endeavored to assimilate Native Americans into Anglo-American culture but combated indigenous resistance during occasions of violent conflict. He has been memorialized by monuments, art, geographical locations, stamps, and currency, and many scholars and polls rank him among the greatest U.S. presidents.

#11 Aristotle

Image source: Royalty Now

One of the most famous thinkers of all time, Aristotle (384-322 BC) contributed significantly to human knowledge. His reach touches logic, biology, ethics, aesthetics, and more. We don’t have any contemporary descriptions of his coloring, but luckily we have several surviving busts of his looks – of course this means estimating the hair and eye color, which is unknown. This work is in the Uffizi gallery, and is a Roman copy of the Greek original. Aristotle was taught by none other than Plato, and he spent 20 years as a student and later as a teacher at Plato’s Academy. Of his approximately 200 works only 31 survive. It is theorized that the surviving writings, because of their jumbled and dense structure, were meant to be lecture notes for his teaching rather than finished works. His writings were lost for many years after his death, and only after 300 years (in 30 BC) did Andronicus of Rhodes group and edit Aristotle’s works. Aristotle remains one of the most influential thinkers of all time, and contributed greatly to history.

#12 Lady Jane Grey

Image source: Royalty Now

Jane was only 17 years old when she was executed in 1554. She is known commonly as “The Nine Days’ Queen” – ruling England and Ireland between the 10th and 19th of July, 1553. Before the death of Edward VI, he nominated the Protestant Jane and her descendents to be his heirs, leaving his Catholic half-sister Mary out of the succession. King Henry VII was Jane’s great-grandfather, putting her squarely in the running as a legitimate heir. Unfortunately Edward passed away before his change to the succession could be ratified through Parliament, leaving it on legally shaky ground, and the slow speed of news travel meant that Mary never heard of the change until Jane was already on the throne. Viewing Jane as a usurper, Mary quickly raised an army and marched on London as Jane was awaiting coronation. After Mary I was installed as queen on July 19th, Jane was eventually deemed too dangerous to the crown to live. Both Jane and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were executed on the 12th of February, 1554. Jane’s life being cut short was a great tragedy – she was known as one of the most learned young women of her day.

#13 Mary Boleyn

Image source: Royalty Now

Mary Boleyn was known as the beauty of the Boleyn family. She previously had an affair with Henry VIII before her younger sister Anne married him.

#14 Jane Seymour

Image source: Royalty Now

#15 Mumtaz Mahal

Image source: Royalty Now

Mumtaz Mahal was the Empress consort of the Mughal Empire from 1628 to 1631 as the chief wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. She is most famously known as the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built to act as a tomb. Cited as one of the Wonders of the World, the monument is seen as one of undying love and devotion. Mumtaz (born Arjumand Banu Begum) was born to a Persian noble family in 1593, and became betrothed to Shah Jahan at the age of 19. The couple went on to have 14 children – the last of which caused Mumtaz’s death. Unfortunately there are no known contemporary portraits of Mumtaz, so I am working from a 17th-18th century likeness. Mumtaz lived an unprecedented lavish and luxurious lifestyle. She had a massive allowance for clothing and travel. However, she was more than a vapid character of history – she was Shah Jahan’s trusted advisor and confidante. On her advice, he would forgive enemies and even commute death sentences. She intervened on behalf of the poor and destitute, and was a patron of arts and culture throughout the empire.

#16 Suleiman The Magnificent

Image source: Royalty Now

Suleiman I, known as Suleiman the Magnificent in the West and Kanunî Sultan Süleyman in his realm, was the longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 until his death in 1566. Under his rule, the Ottoman state ruled over at least 25 million people – what many scholars call the apex of the Empire. Suleiman and his military were a force to be reckoned with – shortly after ascending the throne, he began campaigns against Christian powers of Europe and the Mediterranean. Changes made by Suleiman to the Empire included major overhauls of society, education, taxes, and law.

#17 Toussaint L’ouverture

Image source: Royalty Now

Toussaint L’Ouverture (1743 – 1803) was a Haitian general and best-known leader of the Haitian Revolution. L’Ouverture was a slave in Saint-Domingue (later the country of Haiti) until the age of 33. Beginning in 1789, free people of color of Saint-Domingue were inspired by the French Revolution to seek more rights and equality. L’Ouverture joined the rebellion and quickly worked into the position of General. Allied with the French, he gradually established control over the island of Saint-Domingue. He put forth an autonomous constitution for the colony in 1801, which named him as Governor-General for Life, against the wishes of French leader Napoleon Bonaparte, causing a huge amount of friction. In 1802, he was invited to a parley by the French and was arrested under false pretenses. Deprived of food and water in a French jail cell, he died in 1803. Though L’Ouverture died before the final stage of the revolution, his achievements set the grounds for the black army’s absolute victory. Suffering massive losses in battles at the hands of the Haitian army and battling yellow fever, the French were forced to withdraw from Saint-Domingue. The Haitian Revolution continued under L’Ouverture’s lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared independence on 1 January 1804, thereby establishing the sovereign state of Haiti.

#18 Henry Viii

Image source: Royalty Now

#19 Dido Elizabeth Belle

Image source: Royalty Now

Born into slavery in the West Indies in 1761 to a woman named Maria Belle, Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Lindsay, a British naval officer. It can only be assumed this relationship between Lindsay and Maria Belle was not consensual, however the exact arrangement is lost to history. Lindsay returned to England with Dido after the war in 1765. Lindsay took Dido to be raised by his Aunt and Uncle, William & Elizabeth Murray, the count and countess of Mansfield. The Murray family raised Belle as an educated woman along with their niece and Dido’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray. The portrait I’ve worked from here in the full version shows both Elizabeth and Dido together, as relations but not quite on equal footing. The social conventions of Mansfield’s household are somewhat unclear. When the Mansfields were entertaining, Belle did not eat with the guests. A 2007 exhibit at Kenwood suggests that she was treated as “a loved but poor relation”, and therefore did not always dine with guests. He said Belle joined the ladies afterwards for coffee in the drawing-room. However, other historians think she was treated as an equal based on the luxuriousness of her allowance and wardrobe. The very intelligent Dido was given responsibilities such as managing parts of the household and helping her uncle with correspondence. Belle’s life is such an interesting example of how race and illegitimacy was handled in 1700s England.

#20 Cleopatra

Image source: Royalty Now

Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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Becca Saladin, digital art, historical figure recreations, historical figures
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