London: The Bard of Avon`s likeness has been the subject of speculation for centuries. But scientists have now created what they claim is the "first true image" of William Shakespeare, using state-of-the-art 3D technology.
In fact, the warts-and-all image of Shakespeare shows very wrinkle on the British playwright`s face and the figure`s haunted stare is radically different from the existing images which purport to be of him, the `Daily Mail` reported.
The image is featured in a TV documentary called Death Masks, due to be aired on the History Channel on September 13. Director Stuart Clarke said: "The results from this forensic examination are startling. They show strong evidence both forensically and historically that this 3D model may be, in fact, the way Shakespeare looked in life.
"Breakthroughs in computer imaging mean we may have to rewrite the history books on Shakespeare."
Clarke`s team have also produced 3D likenesses of French emperor Napoleon, Julius Caesar, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The recreations are based on scans taken from death masks, and in some cases masks made during life.
The producers of the show claim that the images will challenge viewers` perceptions of what some of history`s most famous figures looked like.
The image of Napoleon is said to be significantly different from that which the French have become accustomed to, while the "real" face of Washington is nothing like his image on the dollar bill.
But the recreation of Shakespeare is likely to cause the most controversy. Many experts dispute that the death mask used in the programme is Shakespeare`s.
It was found in Darmstadt, Germany, in the 1840s and German scientists linked it to Shakespeare after carrying out a series of tests. They say it proves the writer suffered from cancer towards the end of his life.
Forensic anthropologist Dr Caroline Wilkinson insisted there were "a large number of consistencies" between the 3D image and portraits of the writer.
But Shakespeare Birthplace Trust chairman Stanley Welles rejects the validity of the new image and the death mask, adding: "Shakespeare was not a national figure at the time, not in the way he is today, and it is unlikely a mask like this would have been made."