What would George Washington look like if he were a modern politician? This question came to George Aquilla Hardy, a musician, 14 months after the pandemic. There he was stuck in his nursery in Dorset, England at the age of 23 instead of playing music festivals.
With nowhere to be and tired of “looking at the same four walls,” said Mr. Hardy, he decided to use Photoshop to answer his question. This is the result he posted on Reddit on May 2nd:
Since then, he – and others – have posted and republished it thousands of times on virtually every social media platform. A lot of the comments are silly. But Mr. Hardy’s creation – which he mocked in about three hours – also piqued real interest in the question he started with: What would the first President of the United States look like if he lived in the era of online suit ordering would? and Instagram campaign ads?
It’s unlikely that a man so proud of what he wore would have chosen to be seen in such an inconspicuous suit, said Alexis Coe, a political historian and author of “You Never Forget Your First: A biography of George of Washington. ”
“He was pretty fancy,” she said. “I don’t think it would look as chic as Mitt Romney, but you could tell it was well tailored. If he couldn’t wear Prada, he’d probably have it made to measure. “
Dean Malissa, described as the “greatest George Washington impersonator in the world,” agreed that the first president was “a bit of a fashion sign.” He also tended to dress more formally than his colleagues. “When men of his day took off their coats when it was scorching hot, he kept his on,” said Mr. Malissa, a longtime Washington performer at Mount Vernon.
Mr. Hardy doesn’t know who designed the coat his George Washington wears, only that it was worn by Representative Roger Williams of Texas. He chose Mr. Williams as the base image for his Photoshop creation after searching for “US Politicians” online and scrolling a bit, he said. He then combined that image with photos of Glenn Close and Michael Douglas because an article about celebrities who look like historical figures convincingly convinced him they had a bit of Washington in them.
Ms. Coe, the political historian, said she hadn’t seen any of the 6-foot-2-inch Washington’s that are known to wear like an athlete on those narrow shoulders. Nor can she imagine a man who put so much effort into photographing Mr. Hardy’s creation. (No, George Washington did not wear a wig, contrary to what many believe.)
What exactly, she said, assuming time travel hasn’t somehow fixed this for him, is the tight-lipped smile. The founding father had terrible teeth. He wore walrus and hippopotamus ivory dentures, as well as slave teeth obtained from dentists who specialize in such things, she said. But even with the dentures he was conscious of opening his mouth.
As it turns out, Mr. Hardy wasn’t the only person who caused pandemic malaise to create a modern portrayal of the man who presided over the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Magdalene Visaggio, a comic book writer, posted this in January:
“I always had a hard time imagining George Washington as a person walking around saying things,” she explained, explaining why she’d done it using a cell phone face-swapping tool and a photo of President Biden.
Her primary objection to Mr. Hardy’s image was that Washington was only 67 when he died, but “he looks super old” in the Reddit portrait.
She also noted that while it is difficult to take photos of people who died before photography, it is difficult to find what is right. She recently began using the teachings of her own modern Washington to create a photograph of Julius Caesar.