March 02, 2008

The face of Johann Sebastian Bach

A reader alerts me to a new forensic reconstruction of J. S. Bach. You can read about it (in English) in Deutsche Welle:

He only posed for one portrait, by Leipzig painter Elias Gottlob Haussmann, which has been reproduced in countless books.

But can anyone be sure that's really what Bach 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.


Crimson Guard said...

Glad you liked this one,DP!

I thought it gave the Saint Nick recon a run for its money.

Its quite evident however, that he wasnt Nordid, as some would like us to believe,haha.

n/a said...

Sorry, crimson fairy. Bach did not share your mestizo coloring.

See here.

Crimson Guard said...

His skull is obviously non-Nordic, you proved my point screwface. Also if you didnt have such a limited reading comprehension level, you wouldve read the article already stated his particular portraits where inaccurate.

As for his skin color, he looks maybe a little darker than that other "swarthoid" non-Nordic, Beethoven.

You can play with yourself over this "mestizo",.

or this one:

n/a said...

rainbow guard,

If you "where" not we todd ed, you might not have missed the part where it is acknowledged Wilkinson referenced the portrait during her work. Or the part of my post where I point out the ID of the skull Wilkinson is working from is based on its resemblance to the Haussmann portrait. Or the fact that all portraits (including this one by a Bach family member) indicate Bach was fair to intermediate in pigmentation.

Wilkinson is willing to accept that the portrait(s) get morphology more or less right (again, the entire project is based on that assumption), yet she asserts we know nothing about Bach's pigmentation--despite the fact it's much easier to correctly remember, describe, and reproduce pigmentation than morphology. Even if we did know nothing about Bach's pigmentation, Wilkinson's color choice would still defy logic. Bach's father is depicted with fair skin and light-colored facial hair. Similarly, other Bach family members are depicted as fair to medium in complexion. Even if we were then to ignore the information on Bach's family members, the next logical choice would be to depict Bach with pigmentation typical of his birthplace--which Wilkinson has not done, to say the least.

I assume your addled mestizo brain told you posting pictures of a Jew and a Bavarian constitutes some sort of argument. It does not.

Bach was neither Bavarian nor Jewish; the individuals you chose are not representative of any region of Germany, much less the region of Bach's birth; and, hilariously, the examples you picked are still not as swarthy as Wilkinson's "reconstruction".

Bach was racially Northern European. Period. Under some definitions, his skull would be classified as "Nordic". Under others, it would not. Regardless, racially, Bach has much in common with his fellow Germans, and other Northern and Central Europeans, and little in common with Iberian-Negro-Amerindian mixes.

Crimson Guard said...

Oh, because his father was fair, and "Racially Northern" European? HAHA OK! Keep on moaning and stinking up the blog like the cheap little ignorant swine that you are. I'm glad it insults you so much that he looks like an "Ibero-Negro-Amerindian" mix.

*In these portraits he doesn't look "fair". So keep on smoking your crack-pipe, its about all you having going for ya.,,1406416_4,00.jpg

More seriously. Dienekes, I think the reconstruction and even Haussmann's portrait resembles this Ukrainian Alpine(with possible Mediterranean or Nordic admixture, or both) plate from Professor Coon:

n/a said...

For the benefit of those who are not uncomprehending children's television fans: the "Iberian-Negro-Amerindian" is "crimson guard". The reconstruction, with Wilkinson's creatively PC choice of coloring, looks like an excessively suntanned German.

I've posted more on Bach, including Bach skull measurements and a version of Wilkinson's reconstruction before she poured on the swarthy.

Comparing Bach's skull measurements to means of cranial series described by Coon in TRoE, Bach seems to most closely resemble a series of Merovingian Franks, who in turn resemble Kelts (i.e., Iron Age Nordics) according to Coon.

The opinion of cg (whose sharp eyes and sharper mind can't tell the difference between Bach and his son) that low-mesocranic Bach looks like a Ukrainian Alpine carries incredible weight. Yep.

Suetonius said...

Crimson guards post is a typical example of wanting to pigeonhole other ethnicities into one sole sterotype in order to claim historical glories for ones own ultrawide ethnicity.

Check out the head of this very swedish looking composer Benny Andersson:


Young together with his bandmates:

The eyes of bach is definetely a german or germanic trait. I happen to know quite a few people in the swedish music business who have exactly those eyes. They probaly have some ancestry from germany.

Regarding the skin colour, they should do a genetic test.

Suetonius said...

Ok just a modification. His eyes which are common among germans might very well be due to some limited asian admixture. This doesn't change the fact though that northern europeans cluster together and belong to the same larger ethnicity.

Polak said...

He doesn't have Asian admixture.

atypicalheroine said...

Somehow facial reconstruction lacks romance... I've yet to see one that didn't present the subject in the light of some sort of social deviant.

Dragon Horse said...

you guys are silly. Dude is white. To most people who are nonwhite you guys generally all look the same but for hair color (or if you get close enough to see eye color). If my wife sees two white women with the same hair color in a movie she will usually start confusing them.

Pure comedy...

Suetonius said...

Cheers to dragon horse! I apologize if it seems that I see asian admixture as something negative. I really dont! I have great respect and admiration for asian culture. Good mutations can also happen in any ethnic group and if you manage to pick them all up while not getting the bad ones you will probably end up a winner! In real life of course it's not that easy since you are not guaranteed to draw all the winning tickets. Some pure groups might also have advantages for specific tasks.

Another thing is that for the earths biological and cultural diversity it would be very tragic if major relatively unmixed ethnic groups such as northern europeans, han chinese, west africans, east africans and australoids as well as their societies would be exterminated. It's of course also not in the interest of these groups to be marginalized and thereafter exterminated. The main mixes of course also contribute and should be preserved but the unmixed peoples are the primary colours of the world.

pconroy said...

As regards his eyes - mine are fairly similar, so are my Dad's and other relatives - it's not an Asian thing.

It's found in many people of Irish or Scottish - and sometimes English - descent too...

Antigonos said...

He looks Alpine to me. Only a bit more robust that the typical Alpine.