Artist Uses AI to Recreate Diego Velázquez’s Lost Painting “Expulsion of the Moriscos”

In 1734, a big fire in the Royal Alcázar castle in Madrid, Spain, destroyed 500 artworks from artists like Titian, El Greco, Raphael, Rubens, and Diego Velázquez. Now, one of those destroyed artworks was recreated thanks to artificial intelligence.

During a recent solo exhibition at Albarrán Bourdais art gallery, artist Fernando Sánchez Castillo presented a recreation of Diego Velázquez’s Expulsion of the Moriscos, one of the paintings that was destroyed in the Royal Alcázar fire. The painting, which depicted expulsions of Maors from Spain in 1609, was recreated through a laborious process that included the use of AI text-to-image software Midjourney.

According to Spanish media outlet El Pais, Castillo first gathered detailed descriptions of the painting from historical records and a copy of a simple sketch of the painting that is currently being held in Madrid’s Prado Museum. He and AI enthusiast Paula García then used the collected data, as well as other paintings on the same subject, to make various recreations of Velázquez’s lost artwork with Midjourney until they got the best result.

“It’s a time-consuming job that requires patience. You move forward, go back, check internet images, then move forward again,” García told El Pais.

Castillo and García say that 80% of their recreation of Velázquez’s “Expulsion of the Moriscos” could be attributed to the artist, with the remaining 20% being AI.