“The Real Face of James Madison – The Jokester”
Starting with a high-resolution photograph of the James Madison life mask created by John Henri Isaac Browere (1790—1834) in 1825; combined with meticulous research into eye color, hair style and color, eyebrows, complexion, etc.; and the magic of Adobe Photoshop this resultant image takes the viewer back to that day in 1825! Just gaze into Madison’s blue eyes, with his bushy eyebrows and signature “widow’s peak” comb-over and be transported back in time.
Beyond his more famous legacy, Madison was also known as “an incessant humorist” who “set his table guests daily into roars of laughter over his stories and whimsical ways of telling them.” He was also known to tell and enjoy a dirty joke or two. In this version, he has a slight grin on his face. Perhaps he’s getting ready to tell us one of those dirty jokes.
Before photography, life masks were the best way to give us an exact likeness of their subject. Plaster would be applied to the head and sometimes upper torso to create a mold from which a life mask (cast bust) of the person would be created. In addition to being three-dimensional, the faithful transfer process of the life mask creation eliminated the “artistic license” and “sympathetic treatment” employed by many contemporary portrait artists. Thus, using life masks, I am able to complete a forensic/academic study of how the subjects most likely appeared using Adobe Photoshop to add flesh, hair, and other details.
“That Madison was satisfied with the result of Browere’s skill is shown by the following: ‘Per request of Mr. Browere, busts of myself and of my wife, regarded as exact likenesses, have been executed by him in plaister[sic], being casts made from the moulds[sic] formed on our persons, of which this certificate is given under my hand at Montpelier, 19, October, 1825.’
“In his late 70s Madison was still mentally sharp. In 1828, one visitor found his conversation ‘a stream of history… so rich in sentiments and facts, so enlivened by anecdotes and epigrammatic remarks, so frank and confidential as to opinions on men and measures, that it had an interest and charm, which the conversation of few men now living, could have.’ Physically, Madison’s ‘little blue eyes sparkled like stars from under his bushy grey eyebrows and amidst the deep wrinkles of his poor thin face.’ With age, his complexion became yellowish, and his eyes ‘blepharitic’ (i.e. puffiness around the eyes).”
J. I. Browere’s “work achieved a stark realism uncommon in that day. His plaster busts showed the age-lined brow, the pock-marked face; his subjects appeared as they were, not as artists generally portrayed them. His life masks were, and remain, the most authentic likenesses of some historic figures who lived in a day before photography provided more easily obtained but similarly uncompromising portraits.”
J. I. Browere’s made life masks of many famous early Americans, Marquis De Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Dolley Madison and James Madison to name a few.
About Your Print:
Your print comes with a certificate of authenticity and was made by a commercial printing service using Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. My signature on the back is signed with an archival acid free ink pen and the blue logo stamp uses archival acid free ink.
Your print will last as long, if not longer than silver halide photographs under the same conditions. If you display your print in a frame under glass or acrylic board, try to avoid hanging in direct sunlight as the color may fade over time, as do traditional photographs.
This is a new ready-to-frame print. (FRAME NOT INCLUDED)
Prints ship with 1-5 business days via USPS First Class Mail. Free U.S. Shipping.