Da Vinci’s Painting Secrets Unveiled with X-rays
July 18, 2010
Paris (Chattahbox) – A group of French researchers revealed on Friday that they have discovered some of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting secrets. The announcement was made after the team analyzed seven of the renaissance painter’s works in the Louvre Museum.
These paintings, which included the famous Mona Lisa, revealed that da Vinci achieved his soft, subtle shading by painting up to 30 layers ultra-thin layers on a given painting. Each layer is estimated to be roughly half the thickness of a human hair. This technique is known as ‘sfumato’, and while experts have been aware of its usage in da Vinci’s works, this is the first time they’ve been able to accurately and scientifically examine it.
The scientists used a safe, non-invasive method called x-ray fluorescence to examine da Vinci’s paintings. Previously they would have had to deface the paintings in order to study them. The researchers also explained that da Vinci frequently varied his color techniques, which is not surprising, given his inventive mind.
Short of building a time machine and peeking in on da Vinci while he painted this lovely lady, x-ray fluorescence may be the best glimpse into his methods science can offer us.