Tag: Leonardo Da Vinci

The Greatest Threats to da Vinci's "The Last Supper": Milan's Dirty Air & Visitors' Oily Skin

By Douglas Main | November 29, 2011 11:19 am

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” has survived since the late 1400s on a wall in the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, weathering centuries of change and intrigue, such as a World War II bombing. Worried about soiling from air pollution in the city, one of Western Europe’s most heavily polluted, curators installed a ventilation and filtration system to protect it in 2009. The system worked well at reducing levels of fine and coarse particulate matter within the church (according to a new study), which should save the painting from worst effects of air pollution.But a significant threat remains: fatty lipids and organic compounds, such as those emitted from the skin of the 1,000 people that visit the painting each day.

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Mona Lisa and Mayan Blue: Art History via X-Rays

By Joseph Calamia | July 15, 2010 1:34 pm

monalisaResearchers have decided to get personal with Mona Lisa–by irradiating her face. In a study recently published in Angewandte Chemie, researchers trucked around the Louvre to look at nine faces painted by Leonardo Da Vinci with a portable X-ray machine.

Their particular technique, as reported by the BBC, is called X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and is a way to uncover the layers of paint without damaging the paintings. By looking at this layering, they learned more about Da Vinci’s brush strokes and a technique called sfumato, which he used to hide transitions between dark and light areas and to create realistic shading.

The Da Vinci researchers aren’t the only X-ray art historians. Another recently published study looked at “Mayan blue”–a long lasting pigment made by the civilization that lived in Central American from 2500 BC to the 1600s.

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