London, Mar 9 : Dundee University (DU) scientists have successfully built a three-dimensional model of the head of Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest composer of the baroque era, by making use of techniques of forensic investigation.
The reconstruction project, led by Caroline Wilkinson, forensic anthropologist, was based on a bronze cast of the skull of Johann Sebastian Bach, taken from his skeleton in the 19th century.
The scientists created the head layer by layer on a computer before coming up with their final model.
The recreated head of the composer of the Brandenburg concertos shows the Mass in B minor and the St Matthew Passion as a thickset, middle-aged man with a chubby face, wide eyes and a fleshy bite. He also has a prominent underbite, with a protruding bottom lip and chin.
It is believed that there is only one surviving portrait for which Bach sat - a 1746 painting by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, where he is show to be a gruff, bewigged figure holding a sheet of music.
It was Bachhaus Museum in Eisenach, Bach's hometown in Germany, which commissioned the DU experts for the project. Johann Ambrosius Bach, the composer's father, was the church organist.
Wilkinson said that initially her team had laser-scanned the skull to be able to reproduce it on screen.
"We followed this up by putting in all the facial muscles on the model, which was a 3D version on the computer. Then we looked at details of the bones on the skull and worked out things like the fold of flesh on top of the nose," Times Online quoted her, as saying.
She used the model to create a bust in acrylic plastic, which has been sent to the Bachhaus Museum.
"Some points on the face are familiar and they resemble my own features. I am not so sure about the eyes. It would be easier to decide if it looks like Bach if the head had his normal wig on," said Johann von Colson, 70, the only known descendant of Bach.
The recreated head, will be unveiled on March 21, the 323rd anniversary of the composer's birth.