You Would not Believe These Portraits Aren’t Photographs!

Joongwon Jeong is a South Korean artist who specializes in creating large hyperrealistic paintings that you’d swear are photographs!

But as if painting a picture so minutely that it’s almost impossible to tell apart from a photo isn’t hard enough, Jeong has added another level of difficulty for himself by choosing to give the hyperrealistic treatment to people who never had their picture taken, or some that we’re not even sure ever existed in the first place!

“I try to use as much reference as possible,” he explained his process in an interview to “Photographs are my major reference, but I also use live models and even drawings.”

In one particularly stunning case, Jeong created a magnificent portrait of the legendary Greek poet Homer. Not only are scholars not entirely certain that Homer was a real person, but his only surviving likenesses are statues. How could Jeong create such a lifelike painting out a largely featureless piece of stone?

“Since I could not rely solely on my imagination to come up with the lifelike image of the ancient poet, I found a model who had a similar facial feature with the bust of Homer,” he confided. “And then I combined the image of his real face with the face of the marble bust. The general facial structure was strictly based on the bust.”

The result speaks for itself, and luckily so, as we were left speechless!

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<The Story of the Death of Seneca / 세네카의 죽음에 관한 이야기>⁣⁣ ⁣ Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist. He was a tutor and advisor to emperor Nero, until he ran out of the tyrant's favour and was eventually ordered to take his own life. His death, which is notably famous for its dramatic quality along with that of Socrates, is recorded in detail by Tacitus;⁣⁣ ⁣ ‘Seneca, as his aged frame, attenuated by frugal diet, allowed the blood to escape but slowly, severed also the veins of his legs and knees. (…)⁣⁣ ⁣ ‘Seneca meantime, as the tedious process of death still lingered on, begged Statius Annaeus, whom he had long esteemed for his faithful friendship and medical skill, to produce a poison with same drug which extinguished the life of those who were condemned by a public sentence of the people of Athens. It was brought to him and he drank it in vain, chilled as he was throughout his limbs, and his frame closed against the efficacy of the poison. At last he entered a pool of heated water, from which he sprinkled the nearest of his slaves, adding the exclamation, "I offer this liquid as a libation to Jupiter the Deliverer." He was then carried into a bath, with the steam of which he was suffocated, and he was burnt without any of the usual funeral rites.’ ⁣⁣ ⁣ 루시우스 아나에우스 세네카는 로마시대 스토아 학파의 철학자이자, 정치인, 극작가였다. 그는 네로 황제의 스승이자 조언자이기도 했는데, 결국은 네로의 눈 밖에 나 스스로 목숨을 끊을 것을 명령받는다. 세네카의 극적인 죽음은 소크라테스의 죽음과 함께 철학사에서 매우 유명하다. 그가 죽음의 이르기까지의 과정을 타시투스는 다음과 같이 기록했다. ⁣⁣ ⁣ ‘평소 검소한 식사를 했던 세네카의 늙은 육체는 가뜩이나 쇠약했다. 그는 천천히 피를 흘렸으며, 이내 두 다리와 무릎의 혈관도 마저 끊었다. (…)⁣⁣ ⁣ ‘죽음에 이르는 시간이 너무 길어지자, 세네카는 신뢰하는 친구이자 약사인 스타티우스 아나에우스에게 사약을 지어줄 것을 간곡히 부탁했다. 그 사약은 아테네인이 민중으로부터 사형선고를 받고서 마셨던 것과 같은 재료로 만든 것이었다. 그러나 그마저도 사지를 차갑게 만들기만 할 뿐 큰 효험이 없었다. 결국 그는 뜨뜻한 물을 받아 둔 욕조 속에 들어갔고, 주변에 있던 노예들에게 물을 뿌리며, “이 물을 목숨을 거두시는 주피터 신께 신주로 바치노라”고 외쳤다. 그리고는 목욕탕으로 옮겨져, 더운 증기에 질식해 마침내 죽음에 이르렀다. 그의 시신은 아무런 장례 절차 없이 불태워졌다.’

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