1. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci (right) and Irina Guicciardini Strozzi, the 15th great-granddaughter of Lisa del Giocondo, the model of the masterpiece (left)
The project was conceived in 1995 and since then Gardner has photographed the descendants of Napoleon, Frederick Douglass, Charles Dickens, and many others you see here. With this project, the author doesn’t aim to highlight the resemblance between the two people. As he stated in an interview, “I’m encouraging a debate. I want to provoke a conversation that makes people curious about history.”
2. Napoleon in his study, a portrait by Jacques-Louis David, 1812, (right) and Hugo de Salis, Napoleon's 4th great-grandson (left)
3. Frederick Douglass (left) and Kenneth Morris, Douglass’s 3rd great-grandson (right)
A massive amount of research and preparation lies behind each of these pictures. When searching for the next subject, the photographer first needs to find a contemporary descendant within the 150-year range of the historical figure. What’s more, the author’s aim is to only include relatives of people with iconic ancestors, not mere celebrities.
4. Berthe Morisot by Edouard Manet, 1872 (right) and Lucie Rouart, her great-granddaughter (left)
5. William Wordsworth, a portrait by William Shuter, 1798 (right) and Tom Wonter, Wordsworth’s 4th great-grandson (left)
6. Oliver Cromwell, a portrait by Robert Walker, 1653-1654 (right) and Charles Bush, his 9th great-grandson (left)
7. Charles Dickens, a portrait by Herbert Watkins, 1858 (right), and Gerald Charles Dickens, his great, great-grandson (left)
Having selected the best depiction from an often very limited database of paintings and photos, Gardner goes on to recreate the setting and costume of the original portrait, preferably using vintage pieces. This can be difficult, or even impossible, at times, as in the case of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s portrait with the massive chains in the background. In cases like these, the photographer uses models or digital manipulation to offer a lifelike reproduction of the original image.
8. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a portrait by Robert Howlett, 1857 (right), and Isambard Thomas, his 3rd great-grandson (left)
9. Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800 (left) and Shannon LaNier, Jefferson’s 6th great-grandson (right)
Although the pandemic has halted the project, for now, Gardner plans on continuing the series with more exciting recreations. Certainly, this project is more than a neat recreation of famous pictures, it’s a way to start a meaningful and often difficult conversation on history, its famous faces, and their legacies.
10. Emeline Pankhurst (right) and Helen Pankhurst, the women's rights activist's great-granddaughter (left)
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