He is one of the most romanticized figures in Scottish history: a charismatic young prince, born and raised in exile, who stirred a Jacobite uprising in the Scottish Highlands in a last-ditch attempt to restore his family to the British throne.
Though the 1745 uprising failed, the prince, Charles Edward Stuart, was immortalized in the popular imagination as a tragic hero, nicknamed Bonnie Prince Charlie for his good looks.
A new recreation of the prince’s face as it might have looked when he led the rebellion is now seeking to humanize the man behind the legend, pimples and all.
The recreation, made at the University of Dundee in Scotland, is a stark departure from how Prince Charles, as played by the actor Andrew Gower, has appeared on the hit television series “Outlander.” It is also a departure from traditional portraits that depicted him as a fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked young man.
Instead, the new recreation suggests Prince Charles, who was 24 when he led the uprising, had a plainer appearance, with thinner lips, sunken eyes and, yes, acne. It was produced by Barbora Veselá, a master’s student of forensic art and facial imaging, who said she aimed to create a realistic portrayal of the prince as a “regular person, without any sort of royal splendor.”
Ms. Veselá’s recreation is based on a 3-D model built from hundreds of detailed photographs of the prince’s death masks, which were cast after he died at 67 in 1788. She used digital sculpting software to reverse facial changes caused by aging, heavy drinking and the stroke that led to his death.
Unlike forensic facial reconstructions, historical reconstructions allow — and in some cases, require — researchers to take some creative liberties, Ms. Veselá said.
She based details that would not have been preserved in a death mask, such as the prince’s hair, on contemporaneous accounts and other likenesses believed to have been fairly faithful depictions. They include a bust made by the 18th-century French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, from which she took cues for her recreation’s chin-length curls.
Despite the prince’s reputation for being handsome and charismatic, Ms. Veselá said she had intentionally included blemishes that were noted in a few historical accounts in an effort to convey that he was not just a mythic hero, but also a “complex person, as we all are.”
“I don’t think he’s bad looking, I just think that beauty is very subjective, and we definitely have different beauty standards than they would have in the 18th century,” she said.
The facial shape and structure of the University of Dundee recreation are corroborated by many eyewitness accounts of the rebellion and are likely “quite realistic,” said Roderick Tulloch, a collector of Jacobite history who is working to establish a visitors’ center at the site of the Jacobites’ victory at the Battle of Falkirk Muir.
One account of the prince’s triumphant seizure of Edinburgh in September 1745, for example, said he had a high nose and long visage, and that “his chin was pointed and mouth small in proportion to his features.”
But Mr. Tulloch noted that the same account described the prince’s complexion as “ruddy,” in contrast with the sallow and blemished likeness produced by the University of Dundee. The prince is also shown with rosy cheeks in a portrait by the renowned Scottish artist Allan Ramsay that is regarded as one of the most accurate likenesses of him, especially compared with official portraits that may have embellished his features.
Even staunch opponents described the prince during this time as a good-looking man, Mr. Tulloch added. His charisma helped his cause — in a matter of months after arriving in Scotland, he rallied even skeptical Highland clans and assembled a force of thousands to fight the British army.
The romanticization of Prince Charles was also at least partly a response to the ruthlessness of the British forces, particularly at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Mr. Tulloch said. An estimated 1,000 Jacobites were slaughtered at the battle, which lasted only about 40 minutes and marked the effective end of the rebellion.
The prince’s legend also grew from his subsequent dramatic escape from Scotland, which he managed with the help of a young local woman named Flora MacDonald, who disguised the fugitive prince as an Irish maid and smuggled him to safety by boat.
Considered a hero in her own right, MacDonald is seen bidding farewell to Prince Charles in a scene long memorialized on tins of shortbread sold by the Scottish brand Walker’s.
The story of the prince’s daring escape was also canonized in “The Skye Boat Song,” a folk tune that was adapted as the theme song for the “Outlander” television series.
The historical fantasy and romance series became a global phenomenon and has “done a huge amount to raise the profile of Scotland, Scottish history, and the Jacobites in particular,” Mr. Tulloch said.