Henry VII's death mask helped restore his true appearance

As part of the My Colorful Past project, restorer Matt Lofrey carried out a detailed reconstruction of the appearance of British King Henry VII. He took as a basis a dummy, which is kept in Westminster Abbey, and according to legend was made on the basis of the death mask of the monarch. It has an unusual level of detail and realism for such an ancient product, but it has a number of shortcomings, which digital restoration is intended to correct.

It is known that Henry VII died on April 21, 1509, having spent about thirty years on the throne. By the standards of that time, the king was a deep 53-year-old man who had suffered from asthma and gout in recent years, and therefore the mask depicting an emaciated man in age is not at all surprising. On the contrary, this is a rare case when former subjects did not curry favor with the former master and retained his appearance "as is."

Lofri's work took two months and required the use of photogrammetry technologies and manual color correction. The construction of a three-dimensional model was not difficult, thanks to the quality of the mannequin, there was no problem with the selection of the correct shades of colors. The real snag was the defect in the right eye and the poorly defined right eyebrow of the mannequin. This could be the result of trauma in a living person, and the result of damage to the mask itself in the process of creation or storage.

Since there was no answer, the artist decided to leave all defects in place, as a tribute to the ancient masters. Besides, such a face looks more interesting and "alive". The last question: on the mannequin, the king's face is smooth, there is not a trace of vegetation on it, which is easily explained by the difficulties in making a wax mask. But in those days, men without exception wore beards. The king was probably no exception, and a small beard was added to him.