The Virgin of the Rocks
One of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting in The Virgin of the Rocks. It is a painting of the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and Saint John the Baptist. In 2005, the painting was studied using specialized equipment. According to the National Gallery in London, the place that houses the artwork, the painting contained a different composition underneath. Researchers were able to detect tracings of a covered over an underpainting, where Mary’s eye was in a different place. This was just one of the many differences from the final product. The discovery rocked the art world. Recently, something new was found.
Recently, the painting was studied using higher quality imaging. This test was able to give them more detail than they had previously seen. This new, higher-quality imaging has shown the underpainting in more detail than the previous test. In the latest analysis, experts were able to be able to see unseen early brushstrokes that show that da Vinci originally had Mary positioned on the left side of the image. /she was facing baby Jesus and had an angel on her right side. Compared to the version that we see today, it is clear that the composition was significantly changed.
The reason that da Vinci decided to cover up and redo the original painting is unknown. This was actually the second version of the scene. The first one that he painted was sold to a private client. It was initially painted for a church, but after a dispute, it went to the private client. Shortly after the piece was completed, artists began arguing overpayment, which caused the artist to threaten to sell the work to a rival buyer who was willing to pay more. It is believed that this dispute resulted in the second version of the painting. The covered-up version was far different than the first. The final version was finally sold to the church, and today, the first is hanging in the Louvre in Paris.
The Gallery’s Statement
According to a statement released by the gallery, the second version is no more reproduction. It wasn’t just changes in the locations of the subjects of the painting, da Vinci also used this version to explore new kinds of lighting effects. This is something that many artists do; they just don’t usually do so underneath a famous painting.
To reveal the underpainting, the researchers used three techniques. The first was infrared reflectography. This was the test that revealed the presence of the underpainting in 2015. This technique was able to see the brushstrokes that were covered by many outer layers of paint. These are invisible to the naked eye, but with the infrared light, it was easy to see.
The second technique was X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scanning. According to the experts at the University of Missouri, this technique is used to identify specific elements that sparkle when hit with x-ray light. Because the early drawings were made of a substance that contained zinc, it was visible to XRF. This made things very helpful.
The third technique used is called hyperspectral imaging. According to the Journal of Biomedical Optics, this technique can detect electromagnetic energy coming from the subject and across the spectra. This allowed them to reveal details that are not detectable in a single spectrum.
A Major Find
Thanks to recent technology, experts were able to make this shocking discovery. This is a huge discovery for the art world. According to the gallery, this isn’t the end of the investigation. They plan to continue data processing from the images. They plan to put the images of the underpainting, along with the original, on exhibition in the gallery. The proposed dates are from November 9th through January 12, 2020. If you want to see the painting, you should book your flight to London now.
What Does This Mean For the Future?
Many art experts who have learned about this fantastic find are looking forward to using the same technology to test other famous paintings, especially those painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Since he created a different painting underneath The Virgin of the Rocks, he may have done the same with other paintings.
It is all because of new technology that this incredible piece of art was found hiding underneath another. In time, technology will be even better. This will allow art experts to see even more. Only time will tell what pieces of work are hidden beneath some of the most famous paintings in the world. Hidden painting under da Vinci masterpiece revealed with new imaging, and it has opened the door for experts to look further into the most famous works of art in existence.