Designer Reimagines Famous Historical Figures as Modern People Living Today

What would Julius Caesar Look Like Today?

Julius Caesar

As the daughter of two teachers, graphic designer Becca Saladin has always loved history. Now, she's combined her talents in graphic design with her thirst for learning to create Royalty Now. This fascinating Instagram account shows off her skills in transforming famous figures throughout history into modern characters you'd see walking the streets today. From Julius Caesar and Cleopatra to Queen Elizabeth I and Prince Albert, these historical greats get new life thanks to Saladin's work.

Saladin's adventure with history started a year ago. On a day when she had some free time, she decided to see what her favorite historical figure, Anne Boleyn, would look like with modern hair and makeup. “I put her in a modern outfit, painted on her eyelashes, eyebrows, and makeup, and was excited by what I saw,” Saladin tells My Modern Met. “She became much more relatable to me after that creation. After that, I started doing more of my favorite figures, and started the Instagram as a way to share my work with fellow history lovers.”

Each portrait takes quite a bit of research, with Saladin focusing in particular on the eyes, skin, and hair. While she does her best to find as much information as possible about each person, sometimes it's just not possible. For instance, Cleopatra, while one of the most requested characters for Saladin to work on, was very difficult to create because historians know very little about her appearance. In cases like these, Saladin is forced to make creative choices.

So how does she work her magic? When working on Egyptian and ancient Roman busts, the portrait is built up piece by piece. “The way I reconstruct the portrait busts is by using bits of other images—noses, eyes, lips, etc. from other sources and manipulating them so they fit together and so that they fit the subject,” she reveals. “Many times I'm digitally painting in details like eyeshadow, eyelashes, eyebrows, wrinkles, and skin color. It takes a long time to get it all to look like it makes sense.”

In the end, all the work is worth it to make history come alive and these great historical figures more relatable. Looking at her work, we truly understand why Nefertiti was known as a great beauty. And in examining the beautiful royal trio of King Louis XV and his two mistresses—Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry—we can see why they were the talk of Europe in their day. Other updates result in portraits that bear a resemblance to famous celebrities of today. For instance, Napoleon looks a bit like Quentin Tarantino and the ancient Roman Emperor Augustus could be Jude Law's younger cousin.

Take a stroll through history to see more incredible contemporary transformations by Becca Saladin and follow her on Royalty Now to see who she'll reimagine next.

Becca Saladin spends hours modernizing historical figures through expert digital manipulation.



What would Nefertiti look like today?


Queen Elizabeth I

Modern interpretation of historical figures



Royalty Now - Historical Figure Transformations


Louis XV

Digital photo manipulation of historical images


Madame De Pompadour

Historical figures update for today


Madame du Barry

Photo manipulation of historical figures


From Julius Caeser to Anne Boleyn, she works across history make these characters relatable.


Anne Boleyn

Royalty Now Historical Figure ContemporaryPortraits


Agrippina the Younger

Photo manipulation of historical figures


Abraham Lincoln

Modern portrait of Abe Lincoln


Henry VII

Royalty Now Historical Figure ContemporaryPortraits


Alexander the Great

Modern photo of ancient Roman Emperor





What would Cleopatra look like today?



Historical figures update for today


Mona Lisa

Modern portrait of the Mona Lisa


“I'm happy my images make history come alive for people. It's really rewarding.”


Queen Victoria

Modern Portraits of Historical Figures


Benjamin Franklin

Photo manipulation of historical figures


Queen Mary I

Modern Portraits of Historical Figures



Historical Figures Updated for Today


Prince Albert

Photo manipulation of historical figures


Eleanor of Toledo

Modern interpretation of historical figures

Royalty Now: Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Becca Saladin.

Related Articles:

Historical Figures Transformed Into Modern Illustrations

Historical Figures Playfully Portrayed as Cats and Dogs

Spectacular Colorized B&W Photos of Historical Icons

If Famous Painters From Art History Were Modern-Day Urbanites

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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