Leonardo da Vinci’s
The Lady with an Ermine

virtual cleaning

"On a dévouvert
l'ADN de la Joconde."
par Veronique Prat
21 Oct 2006

Lumiere Technology

Nominee at the 2007
Press Release
29 Jan.2007

Press Release in French                    PRESS RELEASE 

PARIS, OCT. 19th  2006


In  complément of recent publications about Mona Lisa
What were the true colors when the Mona Lisa left Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop ?
Contact Press


Lumiere Technology, a start-up based in Paris, reveals the true colors of the Mona Lisa.

Pascal Cotte, engineer and founder of Lumiere Technology, largely contributed to the knowledge of the Mona Lisa thanks to the multispectral digitization of the famous painting, whose report is detailed in the famous book “Mona Lisa - Inside the Painting”, recently published by Abrams in USA,  Gallimard & the Editions of the Louvre in France, Shirmer Mosel in Germany.

The hidden knowledge of the true colors was revealed by multispectrally scanning the painting in thirteen channels – from Ultra Violet to Infra Red.  Then the spectral response curve of the varnish in each pixel was isolated and subtracted from the digital file to virtually reveal the surface of the painting when it had freshly exited Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop.

This virtual removal of years of accumulated varnish is an illustration of Lumiere Technology’s technical knowledge that will now be marketed as an exclusive digitization service to museums and private fine art collections worldwide.

The true revolution that Pascal Cotte developed enables the in-depth study of fine art paintings using a numerical file to reveal the true pigments for viewing and analysis without touching or damaging the paintings.

Lumiere Technology offers this service to museums worldwide as a unique, single tool to assess, analyze, authenticate, restore and reproduce their masterpieces of fine art.

Here are some of the discoveries revealed by Pascal Cotte,
in complement of
different studies recently published:

      The Mona Lisa’s originally-painted colors
are now revealed

     "Physical removal of brittle varnish that weighs on a painting’s surface – particularly in delicately-painted facial complexion areas - would be very risky.  Touchless multispectral digitization makes this possible.”

      The painting can now be virtually restored through digital varnish removal

"The thinning of accumulated varnish presents the painting’s intermediate state that the Museum of the Louvre could be obtained after a restoration.  Our contribution on scientific bases to a crucial question"

     A fur-lined coat rests on the Mona Lisa’s knees:

"In the painting’s “unfinished” section a fur-lined coat rests on the Mona Lisa’s knees.  Infra-red analysis under the painting’s surface reveals the position of the arm, hand and fingers moved as the artist evolved the final painting."

      There is a modern artifact on the painting !

“Virtual Analysis without touching the painting, revealed a tiny orange speck of “Minium” in the middle of the sky.  This may have been caused by an unfortunate handling of the painting or a projection during maintenance performed in the Museum before the painting was protected by glass.”


    The painting is proven to have shrunk


      "Knowing the mathematical rigor of Leonardo da Vinci who adhered to the harmonic rectangle (the diagonal of the square of the rectangle is equal to the height of the rectangle) to ensure the ‘divine proportions’ essential to the harmony of a portrait and being assured of the total absence of distortion in our optical measurement, we could apply these factors to accurately determine the dimensions of the original poplar wood panel. 
The panel’s width has shrunk to 53.2 cm from its original 55.5 cm dimension.  
An interesting fact to be clarified.

What were the true colors when the Mona Lisa left Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop?

The Mona Lisa painting has been subjected to many experiments, whose results are the subject of the book, “Mona Lisa, inside the painting” that explores the mystery of this work’s creation.  While Canadians conclude pregnancy because of the veil that covers the lady’s chest, the Japanese have simulated her speech.

But, the mystery remains for specialists to interrogate the painting’s original colors before protective varnish was applied.

The sfumato technique applied by Leonardo di Vinci makes any restoration perilous.  According to the French expert of Da Vinci technique, Jacques Frank, “to attempt to unvarnish the Mona Lisa would involve touching the surface, with the risk to irrevocably damage or erase the famous smile.  Furthermore, the varnish may not be able to be physically differentiated from the pigments.”

This conclusion heightens the reality of lightening or eliminating varnished numerically without human contact to physically touch the original.

2 years ago, In October 2004, Pascal Cotte, the inventor of Lumiere Technology’s multispectral camera, digitized the famous masterpiece in the Louvre’s basement Laboratory of the Museums of France.

 The digitized file attained an amazing definition of 240 million pixels and an unequalled scientific precision to enable the study of pigments on the painting’s surface.  The spectral knowledge of each pixel, from ultra-violet to infra-red light rays, revealed the painting’s history by guaranteeing the colorimetry with a never-before-attained acuity.

 The proposal to lighten the paintings historically-accumulated varnish was then collaborated with Francois Perego, author of the famous “Dictionary of Materials of the Painter”, who assessed for Lumiere Technology a simulation of varnish aging.

The result of analysis and virtual restoration is clear for all to see.  The model seems younger and the sky is blue as Leonardo da Vinci had originally painted with Lapis lazuli, the most expensive pigment to buy, actually more than 20.000 $ the Kg !

 “What is new is that scientific knowledge of paintings can now leave laboratories.. Conservators, curatots, experts and private collectors worldwide will very easily have access to a multispectral digital file on their own personal computer with an accuracy never made before.  This will make possible to scientifically enlarge portions, without losing image definition, to leisurely see previous restorations of these most beautiful images.” Said Pascal Cotte."

 A workshop of digitizing functions already exists in the center of Paris.  Paintings can be multispectrally scanned in full physical safety in less than one hour to enable infinite potential for research, understanding and sharing.

 “Lumiere Technology has ambition to install Multispectral rooms in museums to digitize Painting and drawing for the future. Studying pictorial artwork with this accuracy and fidelity is out of the world, said our users..It is a new way for Art studies and reproduction “

This multispectral camera is a major inventgion that pakes it possible for our company to go beyond traditional techniques to transform the worldwide digitla conservation, study and sharing of cultural heritage, that's Google does not do yet!

Remember the dream of Bill Gates who wanted to show on his LCD screen  on the walls Fine Arts paintings. We are now able to deliver  the "reality" of the true color palette of a painting, on different illuminants in the room, sunlight, tungsten, candle, as he'll wish.. Even if you are amblyopic, you will see as you and me the true colors."..

Lumiere Technology is presently collaborating with centers of expertise throughout the world including the C2RMF, the National Galleries in London and Washington, DC., the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Contact Press:
Lumiere Technology
+33(0)1 53 63 28 50
mailto: jean.penicaut@lumiere-technology.com

For Photos, please contact SIPA Press,
Mr. Mete Zihnioglu - Sipa Press Paris +33(0)1 47 43 47 43 
mailto: mete@sipa.com