What did the Founding Fathers Look Like As Young Men? - John Quincy Adams
The Life Mask by J. I. Browere
When one thinks of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, an old bald man with grey mutton chops comes to mind. This is because of the widely circulated photograph of him taken in 1843 at the age of 76. Interestingly, he is the earliest President of whom we have a surviving photograph.
Unfortunately, this photograph and the resulting picture in our minds is not what Adams looked like when he was President from 1825 to 1829. As President, his hair was brown and he did not yet have his "signature" mutton chops.
So what did Adams look like during his presidency? Fortunately we have another true likeness of him taken by sculptor John Henri Isaac Browere in the form of a cast plaster life mask executed in Washington, D.C. in 1825.
Life mask of John Quincy Adams Source: Cheryl A. Daniel, with special thanks to Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown N.Y.
Browere’s casting process utilized a proprietary plaster mixture that due to its lightweight nature did not distort the facial features of his subject’s face as the more common plaster utilized by his contemporaries did. This by all accounts resulted in what was considered an extremely accurate likeness.
The initial reconstructed life mask was done using Photoshop and shows how Adams most likely appeared in 1825 when he was 58 years old and in the first year of his presidency. That reconstruction shown below depicts Adams as he appeared when he was President with brown hair and no sideburns, or mutton chops as they were called in his time.
Photoshop reconstruction of John Quincy Adams's life mask, age 58.
The Young Mr. Adams
De-aged reconstructed life mask of John Quincy Adams
Next, using Photoshop and AI technology I have "de-aged" the reconstructed life mask of Adams back to his early 20's. I based Adam's hair style on the John Single Copley painting of him at age 29. Adams hair in that painted portrait appears to have some white powdering as was custom at this time period; however, we know his hair was dark brown from a portrait painted near the time of his presidency that shows him with brown hair.
Charles Willson Peale's 1783 portrait of John Quincy Adams and the de-aged life mask of John Quincy Adams.
Side by side view of Adams' life mask, early 20's and age 58
John Quincy Adams 1843 colorized daguerreotype, Reconstructed 1825 mask, De-aged life mask
Disclaimer: Per historical records, the original castings of Browere’s life masks are considered exact likenesses; however, the de-aging process despite all attempts to maintain historical accuracy, cannot guarantee that level of exactness.