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French scientists crack secrets of Mona Lisa

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French scientists crack secrets of Mona Lisa

"...da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, ..." - from above link

"The tool is so precise that "now we can find out the mix of pigments used by the artist for each coat of paint," Walter told The Associated Press. "And that's very, very important for understanding the technique." - From above link

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Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, ..."

Only 40 micrometers, but we can't see the 'canvas' underneath. :):)

Thanks,

Jim

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The term 'sfumato' is nothing new.

I would be interested to read an original publication by the scientists. The press releases as usual give rather a silly cant to the whole thing.

Yes it is very cool that they can isolate the layers, and yes it is very interesting to know what pigments Leonardo used at what stage, but the idea of painting 30 "layers" to get a refined result should not come as any sort of 'revelation' to anyone who is familiar with classical representational painting techniques.

If the articles actually reflect the attitudes of scientists then once again we are seeing an unfortunate and distorting disconnect between what the investigators know and what people with actual experience of the processes know.

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40x30=1,200 um or 1.2mm. Strad varnish is very thin; he probably used sfumato technique.

"Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers"

So 40 divided by 30 gives 1.33 micrometers average layer thickness.

I was amazed that they could count them all.

GIZMODO

"The difference with Da Vinci was just how intricate his layers were. Apparently, Da Vinci used 30 layers of paint that amazingly only added 40 micromemters of paint—that's half the width of a human hair." - from above link

"Philippe Walter, the man who X-rayed Mona Lisa:

In the case of "Mona Lisa", Leonardo da Vinci used a mixture of maybe oil and resins, a binder with a very low amount of pigments. " - from above link

Does this sound familiar?

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"Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers"

So 40 divided by 30 gives 1.33 micrometers average layer thickness.

I was amazed that they could count them all.

Thanks, you are right, 1.33 micron!

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Only 40 micrometers, but we can't see the 'canvas' underneath. :):)

Thanks,

Jim

There is no canvass to show. Per Wikipedia, the Mona Lisa is on a Poplar panel.

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So this "sfumato" method is well known? I'm apparently out of the loop because this is the first time I've ever heard of it. :)

Hi,

In plain English it is the glazing tecnique. A teaspoonful of pure turpentine, a few drops of liseed oil and pigment or lake to taste! The turpentine and oil almost disappear on drying and the layer remaining is very thin - almost non-existent! The glaze from the highlights are usually wiped off!

Not everyone can see it, but Leonardo and rembrant painted the soul as well as the image!

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40 divided by 30 gives 1.33 micrometers average layer thickness.

I wonder how many layers of pigment need to be removed before we'll see Mona Lisa's 'smile'.

And while we're at it, I wonder what minimum thickness of transparent iron oxide is required to cloud chatoyance of a beautiful flamed Maple.

Jim

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