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Leonardo's Art Comes Alive

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« on: January 19, 2008, 07:00:34 am »

                                           Leonardo's Art Comes AliveShare

December 6, 2007

KRAKOW, Poland -- No secret codes have come to light in a new digital examination of Leonardo da Vinci's "Lady With an Ermine," but the scan has revealed bolder hues, softer contours and other details lost in centuries of deterioration and touchups on the masterpiece.

After claiming to have used his technique to uncover secrets about "Mona Lisa," French inventor and engineer Pascal Cotte has now used the special "multispectral" camera that he developed to penetrate beneath layers of restoration on the Leonardo portrait of an Italian duke's young lover.

He says his 240-megapixel scans of the painting gives art lovers a very close approximation of what it must have looked like when Leonardo finished painting it about 1490.

"I was afraid to discover a lot of restoration and retouching," said Cotte, who used his scientific training in light and optics to develop his camera, and who has scanned works by van Gogh, Brueghel, Courbet and other European masters.

"There is some, of course. She is ancient -- it's been 500 years. But I was very surprised
to discover a very good painting with few restorations except for the background -- and a 100 percent Leonardo da Vinci painting."

Cotte's camera uses sensors to detect light from both the visible spectrum and the infrared and ultraviolet ranges invisible to the human eye, allowing him to burrow through layers of paint to "see" into the painting's past.

The brighter colors and gentler contours of the female figure uncovered in the "virtual cleaning" could inspire a new appreciation for a work that was off-limits to Western viewers for decades during the Cold War, housed behind the Iron Curtain in a museum in Krakow, Poland.

The Renaissance oil painting, one of four female portraits by Leonardo, shows a graceful young woman in three-quarter profile wearing a sumptuous low-cut red and blue dress as she holds a white ermine. Historians believe the subject was Cecilia Gallerani, the mistress of the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, when she was 16 or 17.

Kept behind glass in a dimly lit room in Krakow's Czartoryski Museum, the painting is considered a masterpiece due to Leonardo's skill in realistically depicting both Cecilia and the ferretlike animal she holds, as well as the dynamism of her body as she turns toward a light that bathes her.

--The Associated Press

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Credit: AP/Czartoryski Foundation and Lumiere Technology
« Last Edit: January 19, 2008, 07:05:10 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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