A scientist has spent 14 years assessing photographs of among the world"s most well known paintings.

You are watching: Can you take pictures of the mona lisa

Sarah Cascone, September 28, 2020


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Scans that Leonardo da Vinci"s Mona Lisa reveal hidden secrets including a hairpin. Photograph courtesy the Pascal Cotte.

A new high-tech examine of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa suggests that the Renaissance master created the paint using a formerly unknown preparatory sketch.

The pass out traces of a charcoal underdrawing, visible thanks to multispectral analysis, are evidence of the spolvero technique, in which the artist pricks tiny holes along the outlines that the drawing and also uses charcoal dust to move the cartoon to canvas.

The discovery, published by scientist Pascal Cotte in the Journal of social Heritage, was an ext than 15 year in the making. In 2004, the Louvre allowed Cotte to take photographic scans that the Mona Lisa, and also he’s invested the intervening decade and also a half tirelessly poring end the much more than 1,650 result images.

“The Louvre invite me due to the fact that I to be the inventor that a new very high-resolution, very sensitive multispectral camera,” Cotte called betterworld2016.org betterworld2016.org in one email.


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reveal covert secrets including a spolvero underdrawing. Picture courtesy of Pascal Cotte. " width="600" height="888" srcset="https://betterworld2016.org/can-you-take-pictures-of-the-mona-lisa/imager_2_8074_700.jpg 439w, https://betterworld2016.org/app/betterworld2016.org-upload/2020/09/mona-lisa-203x300.jpg 203w, https://betterworld2016.org/app/betterworld2016.org-upload/2020/09/mona-lisa-34x50.jpg 34w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" />

Scans that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa reveal concealed secrets including a spolvero underdrawing. Photograph courtesy that Pascal Cotte.


With his Lumiere technology camera, Cotte’s pioneering “layer amplification method” is able to detect light reflected top top 13 wavelengths, building on the work-related of infrared photography, which has previously been crucial in making visible to the naked eye details hidden beneath the surface ar of a painting.

Cotte was able to spot the basic charcoal lines in the lighter areas of the painting using a mix of near-infrared photography and also infrared reflectography.


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Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (1503–17). Courtesy the the Louvre, via Wikipedia Commons.


“The optical system enables us to see an extremely fine details and also the high sensitivity permits a really high amplification of short signal,” Cotte added. “The spolvero ~ above the forehead and also on the hand betrays a finish underdrawing.”

This is the first time a spolvero has been spotted in the well known painting, which raises the fascinating opportunity that somewhere the end there, a file drawing that the Mona Lisa by Leonardo’s hand may quiet exist—and the it would function a slightly different pose, as the underdrawing reflects the artist made adjustments to the final composition.


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(1503–17) being photographed at the Louvre utilizing the Lumiere modern technology camera. Picture courtesy the Pascal Cotte." width="650" height="589" srcset="https://betterworld2016.org/can-you-take-pictures-of-the-mona-lisa/imager_4_8074_700.jpg 650w, https://betterworld2016.org/app/betterworld2016.org-upload/2020/09/multispectral-camera-300x272.png 300w, https://betterworld2016.org/app/betterworld2016.org-upload/2020/09/multispectral-camera-50x45.png 50w" sizes="(max-width: 650px) 100vw, 650px" />

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503–17) being photographed at the Louvre utilizing the Lumiere technology camera. Photo courtesy that Pascal Cotte.


The file notes that the cartoon may have been supplied to produce other copies of the painting, favor the version owned by the Prado in Madrid.

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Cotte’s research revealed other heretofore unseen details, prefer what shows up to be a hairpin just over the Mona Lisa’s head—something that would not have been in style at Florence at the time of the painting’s creation. Cotte said the Express that the hairpin argues that the painting wasn’t a portrait, but an allegorical work, or a depiction of one “unreal woman, favor a goddess.”

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