Thanks to new technology developed by Google, viewers can now get a close-up look of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. A Gigapixel camera allows art aficionados the ability to zoom in closer than previously possible to see new details of some of the world’s greatest works of art.
New Technology Digitizes Works of Art
London’s Royal Academy of Arts partnered with Google Arts and Culture to digitize more than 200 of its works. The “art camera” team has spent tireless hours capturing high-resolution images of some of the most highly-regarded paintings in history, including a copy of The Last Supper.
“Google Arts & Culture has spent the past year there creating Gigapixel images of 20 of its most renowned artworks including [a copy of] The Last Supper,” according to the U.K. Times. “[It is believed] to have been created by Giampietrino or Boltraffio, who were pupils of Leonardo.”
Viewers can now see the smallest of details that were hard to see in copies or have been lost in the original.
“You can really zoom into the finest level of detail like never before,” Luisella Mazda, head of global operations at Google Arts and Culture, said. “It makes the invisible visible.”
Never Before Seen Details of ‘The Last Supper’
The new gigapixel camera utilizes a laser and sonar to capture the most intricate details of paintings. These details are then “stitched together” into a billion-pixel image allowing viewers to see things never seen before.
- The painting now shows Jesus’ feet. They were previously “invisible” after the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie installed a doorway beneath the painting.
- The newly enhanced image also shows the finger of Thomas. It is gesturing in a way that alludes to his future doubts of Jesus’ resurrection.
- The images also show Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus, clutching a bag of money.
“You can see brushstrokes, cracks in the painting. In real life, it would be very hard to get close to the artwork for security reasons and even if you could get close enough, how long could you really stand in front of an artwork to examine all these fascinating details,” Mazza said.
The difference in the original painting and the copies created by Da Vinci’s pupils was the materials that were used. Da Vinci used egg tempera on the wall. The copies used the more traditional method of oil paint on canvas. The latter method aged much better than the original.
Mazza also said the close-up images of The Last Supper were just the beginning of Google’s efforts with its Gigapixel camera. Google will examine many other great works of art with its new technology.