Barbora Veselá

Forensic Art & Facial Imaging MSc

The Yellow-Haired Laddie: Reconstructing the Face of Prince Charles Edward Stuart using his death mask.


Prince Charles Edward Stuart was born in Rome at the very end of December 1720. The star that appeared in the sky that day signalled the birth of a hero who would reinstate the Stuart dynasty to the throne of Great Britain. Young, restless and full of hope, the Prince sailed for Scotland in the summer of 1745 when he was 24 years old. Against all odds, he initially achieved great success and amassed an army of thousands of supporters. However, his hopes were crushed in April of 1746 at the battle of Culloden, where the Jacobite army suffered catastrophic defeat.

This project aimed to recreate the appearance of the young Prince using his death mask and a combination of forensic methods. Scans and images of his death mask were taken in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow and the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. A holistic age regression approach was utilised to recreate the young appearance of the Prince, combining scientific knowledge of aging patterns and artistic skills. Using 3D digital software and traditional sculpting methods, two portraits of the Prince were created from two very different points in time: during the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh and his flight after the battle of Culloden. Despite their stark contrast, they both tell the tale of one man: a popular, charming, yet hot-headed Prince, and a hardy fugitive on the run who was always brave despite his desperate circumstances.

Progress Images of Physical Reconstruction

On the left, model of the death mask of Prince Charles in a digital sculpting software. In the middle, wax bust of a white man being painted with oil paints. On the right, a collar of a shirt made of linen with two hand-made buttons and buttonholes.

Scanned death mask of Prince Charles was blended with a modelled body using 3D sculpting software (ZBrush) and age-regression technique was then applied. This model was subsequently 3D printed and a layer of wax was applied on top, textured and painted with oil paints. Period appropriate clothes were sewn, and hair was applied. For further information refer to my social media.

Wax Bust of Prince Charles Edward Stuart

A wax bust of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, left lateral view, anterior view, right lateral view. White man with powdered strawberry blonde hair and blemishes on his face. He is wearing an 18th century men’s linen shirt. Over his right shoulder he has his neck stock, from pleaded white linen, unbuckled, the buckle is made of brass.

The early morning mist visible from his bedroom window is slowly disappearing into the bushes, while the birds are beginning to chirp their merry song. The air is filled with joyful anticipation. Soon his manservant will come and dress him in his robes, but for now he can enjoy the freedom only the quiet blue dawn can afford. The day is 22th September 1745. Just a few days after he arrived at the Palace of Holyrood house, greeted by crowds of his supporters lining the streets of Edinburgh, both men and women reaching out to him to touch his clothes and kiss his hands, the Jacobite army managed to defeat the troops of the cowardly General Cope at the Battle of Gladsmuir. He did not rejoice at the loss of lives for they were all his Father’s subjects despite their unfortunate allegiance, however it was a great victory for the cause. He is restless to free the rest of the kingdoms from the German King sitting on the throne in London.

Digital Sculpture of Prince Charles Edward Stuart

A digital sculpture of a white man in a cave. The cave is dark, lit by fire. The man is sitting down on a rock, has blonde hair and a red beard and moustache. He is wearing a white shirt and a belted plaid. The top portion of the plaid is draped over his head and shoulders. The plaid has a red, black and white tartan pattern.

The crackling of fire and the laughter of his friends permeates the little cave, while the underground creek flows beside them, and the patter of August rain is heard outside. It is over a year since he first set foot on Scottish soil and his circumstances could not be more different. Though, the price of £30,000 on his head is still the same as it was a year ago. He was always a wanted man, now he is just more acutely aware of it, what with soldiers posted all through the land trying to intercept his escape. But it was very different for his friends and supporters, who are threatened with death or exile just by association with him, and it makes his heart heavy. He never meant for any of this to happen. If only they never left Edinburgh, if only they never turned around at Derby, if only… That is why, despite hating the idea of being in the midst of more political intrigues, he had to go to Versailles and bring the promised help from France. He will beg for it if he must. He will crawl on his knees in every European court, he will make them listen. He cannot not leave this destruction behind him, he cannot abandon his friends. A failed Rising will not be his legacy.

Digital Sculpture of Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Animation of the fire in the cave.

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