The Mona Lisa uncovered

"Mona Lisa": Inside the Painting by Jean-Pierre Mohen, Michael Menu and Bruno Mottin (Harry N. Abrahams Inc, 2006) sheds new insights into Leonardo's masterpiece.

The book is the culmination of the most important scientific study ever done on the Mona Lisa. Advances in radiography, optical scanning, infrared reflectography and a number of other new techniques have revealed a wealth of new information about the panel on which the "Mona Lisa" was painted, the underdrawing and underpainting of the image, the paint surface and the materials that went into each.

The study was carried out by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) by request of the Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF). Researchers from NRC traveled to Paris to scan the Mona with its sophisticated 3D laser scanner. NRC's 3D scanner – capable of scanning 3D images at a depth resolution of 10 micro-meters, or about 1/10 the diameter of a human hair – has provided a number of unique views of the portrait that will assist curators and conservators in their ongoing studies of the 500-year-old masterpiece.

"The 3D scan of the Mona Lisa has not only helped to further our understanding of Leonardo's sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling, but will also help to address the conservation and deterioration concerns we have," said Henri Loyrette, Director of the Musée du Louvre which commissioned the study.
A German edition of the book, Mona Lisa: Das große Buch zum berühmtesten Gemälde der Welt, is published by Schirmer/Mosel and the French version is contained is chapter 4 of Au coeur de La Joconde published by Éditions Gallimard.

For more information about the study, animations and images, please visit the NRC web site.

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