Archive for March 5th, 2008

The face of Bach

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

There’s only one extant portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, and that portrait is suspiciously similar to other portraits Haussmann made, so we don’t know how accurate it is.

Thanks to a Scottish anthropologist and her trusty computer program, though, we can now get a whole new picture of what Bach might have looked like.

Working with a cast of the composer’s skull on loan from the Bach Museum in Eisenach, Scottish anthropologist Caroline Wilkinson has created a 3-D representation of the face of a man who died in 1750 at the age of 65.

Wilkinson, a specialist in her field, had developed a computer program that is capable of extrapolating the measurements taken from the subject’s facial bones. She has also used it to identify casualties in the Balkan wars and to reconstruct the face of Pharaoh Ramses II.

“We carried out a laser scan of the skull which allowed us to recreate the musculature and skin of the face on our computer system,” she told reporters. “This is really the most complete face that can be built from the available reliable information.”

So without further ado, say hello to Mr. Bach:

Here’s Haussmann’s portrait for comparison:

Haussmann’s portrait of Bach

They look pretty close to me. Slap a peruke on the computer model and they could be twins, or at least brothers.

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