What did the U.S. Founding Fathers and other historical figures really look like?

See their real faces based upon life masks!

James Madison Life Mask Facial Reconstruction
James Madison Life Mask

Using life masks, I conducted a comprehensive forensic and academic study to envision the most probable appearance of the subjects. By incorporating flesh, hair, and other intricate details, I aimed to reveal how these individuals might have looked in daguerreotypes and photographs.

Our understanding of these historical figures primarily relies on surviving engravings, drawings, paintings, and sculptures housed in museums and historical sites. However, one must question their accuracy. Do these depictions suffer from the biases of "artistic license" and "sympathetic treatment" commonly employed by portrait artists of that era?

Before the advent of photography, life masks served as the most effective method of capturing an exact likeness of an individual. Essentially, plaster was applied to the subject's head and sometimes upper torso to create a mold, from which a life mask or bust could be cast. This process resulted in a three-dimensional and faithful representation, capturing even the minutest details of the subject's true appearance. Thanks to the works of sculptors John Henri Isaac Browere and Jean-Antoine Houdon, we now possess a range of life masks of famous early Americans, providing us with a glimpse into their genuine visage.

George Washington Life Mask Facial Reconstruction
George Washington Life Mask

Browere's use of a lightweight plaster mixture ensured that the faces were not distorted, leading to highly accurate likenesses. Thomas Jefferson, upon seeing his own life mask bust, endorsed its fidelity, a sentiment shared by James and Dolley Madison when they observed it a few days later. James Madison commented on his own life mask, stating, "Per request of Mr. Browere, busts of myself and of my wife, regarded as exact likenesses, have been executed by him in plaster, being casts made from the molds formed on our persons, of which this certificate is given under my hand at Montpelier, 19, October, 1825."

However, a plaster bust lacks the visual allure of a vibrant, full-color image. Therefore, armed with high-resolution photographs and an extensive investigation into the subjects' individual physical traits, I embarked on the task of creating such images, emphasizing accuracy and faithfulness to the original as my guiding principles. Through the reconstruction of these life masks, I aimed to bring these icons of history to life in modern color photographs, providing a portal to the past. Additionally, I skillfully crafted period scenes that featured these authentic faces, offering a captivating glimpse into history.

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About Me


I am Cheryl A. Daniel, also known as Digital Yarbs, an ardent aficionado of both Photoshop and history. My passion lies in reconstructing life masks, statues, and busts of renowned early Americans and other prominent historical figures. At yarbs.net, you can delve into a captivating collection of reconstructions and animations derived from these life masks, showcasing how these subjects might have appeared in daguerreotypes and photographs. Along the way, I sprinkle fascinating historical tidbits to enrich your journey. Among my reconstructions, you will discover the faces of illustrious individuals such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Dolley Madison, Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Clay, and an array of others!

See or purchase Digital Yarbs' works at these fine historical sites.

Fayetteville History Museum Logo Fayetteville History Museum Logo James Madison Museum Logo

Like an image on this site?

Select images are available as signed/numbered high-quality archival giclee prints, limited edition canvases with a certificate of authenticity, and 4x6 premium matte postcards at Digital Yarbs Ebay Store.

What others are saying....


"Very Nice! Long live De Lafayette!"


"Excellent canvas print of our first president! Transaction was easy and quick. Would highly recommend seller to those interested in getting artwork of our Founding Fathers!"


"The postcards are fantastic, artistic creations, and scientific wonders. Shipping time was fast and the artist is honest, friendly, generous, and very forthright. I liked all the extra items sent."


"The artist and her art are impressive. The photo card arrived quickly and was mailed with care."


"Amazing work and quality. George was a handsome man and this picture does him justice, unlike the toothless, old man images of him. He was in his 50s when he became President. The only change I would make would be to show him with dark, reddish hair like he had in his youth. Thanks!"


"Great cards! Finally a real likeness of George Washington! So worth the price! Also, excellent card stock. Seller communication was great as well!"


"Love my GW print!! It brings George back to life! Highly recommend Cheryl's work."


"Beautifully done picture....George is a handsome guy!"


"Nicely done. Very pleased. Consider myself a knowledgeable person on George Washington and I am very impressed. Thank you"


"Now here is THE item to buy if you wish a view of what the Leading Lights of America looked like. I got this to harmonize with my 1815+or- House. It came, well packed, with a 'flock of documentation and information-'-a sure sign of a careful, and proud of their work; Vendor. The quality is above first rate. I had planned to place it in a 'Wally World' frame. NOPE, I will spend the money and have it done aright. In all things-Professional is the only word here. Buy some historic art for YOUR house, you will not be disappointed."


"Excellent service, product, and price"