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volker hermes' masked portraits


Ever wondered what kind of masks 18th-century royals and aristocrats would have worn in a global pandemic? Well, wonder no more because German artist Volker Hermes has answered your curiosity with a series of digitally manipulated paintings. Funnily enough, he began the project 10 years ago – well before mass lockdowns and social distancing. In an interview with, Volker says his intention was to encourage viewers to pay attention to the rich details of Old Masters portraits. By obscuring faces, he could draw the eye to elaborate clothing, sets and other visual cues that tell us about the society represented in these classic works. Of course, when COVID rolled around, Volker’s photoshopped art immediately went viral for different reasons. He’s positive about the new meaning his art carries, though. If a picture of a noblewoman swallowed by a neck ruff reminds someone to wear a mask, that can only be a good thing. See more from Volker on Instagram