The Last Supper in 16 billion pixels

I found this entry on Arts and Faith this afternoon:

    “When going to look at famous masterpieces, you have to deal with jostling museum crowds and sometimes overzealous guards shooing you away if you get too close. Not to mention traveling to Florence or Paris or St. Petersburg or wherever. But now, thanks to yet another happy by-product of the Internet age, Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper is available as a special digital image that lets you get (virtually) closer to its surface than you ever could in real life. (Real life in this instance being a church in Milan where reservations sell out months in advance.)

    Officials in Milan worked with the wittily named Italian company HAL9000 to put a 16 billion–pixel digital image of the painting online — which basically means you can see high-resolution details of sections as small as a one-millimeter square. Thanks to the easy interface, you’ll soon be zooming and panning over the image like the world’s most privileged art historian.”

Seems to work well. This is Da Vinci’s rendition of Jesus’ nose.


Look for yourself via this link. From Wikipedia, some additional history for interested readers:

    “Leonardo painted The Last Supper on a dry wall rather than on wet plaster, so it is not a true fresco. Because a fresco cannot be modified as the artist works, Leonardo instead chose to seal the stone wall with a layer of pitch, gesso and mastic, then paint onto the sealing layer with tempera. Because of the method used, the piece has not withstood time very well – within several years of completion it already began showing signs of deterioration.

    As early as 1517 the painting was starting to flake. By 1556—less than sixty years after it was finished — Leonardo’s biographer Giorgio Vasari described the painting as already “ruined” and so deteriorated that the figures were unrecognisable. In 1652 a doorway was cut through the (then unrecognisable) painting, and later bricked up; this can still be seen as the irregular arch shaped structure near the centre base of the painting. It is believed, through early copies, that Jesus’ feet were in a position symbolizing the forthcoming crucifixion. In 1768 a curtain was hung over the painting for the purpose of protection; it instead trapped moisture on the surface, and whenever the curtain was pulled back, it scratched the flaking paint.”


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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