"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

download the complete file

Leonardo da Vinci’s
The Lady with an Ermine
its virtual cleaning

by the Lumiere-Technology Specialists  

Report  from
by  Didier Rykner
News 13th Nov.2007










Download AFPTV report by clicking 
right on your mouse this  image
TVP3 Pl Video

Krakow, Nov.12th .2007

Supported by the Princes Czartoryski Foundation, the French firm Lumiere Technology has photographed Leonardo’s The Lady with an Ermine with its multispectral camera on September 3rd, 2007, in Krakow

From data obtained thanks to the famous panel’s digitization  at the Czartoryski Museum on Sept.3rd, a high resolution computer virtual cleaning has been done.


“while this operation is based on reliable material observations, its actual scientific meaning goes no farther than producing a reliable visual base to reflection in the event The Princes Czartoryski Foundation would wish to restore the masterpiece. In fact, only cleaning tests done on the original surface would allow restorers to assess whether a real cleaning might supply something close or, even, analogous to this virtual cleaning or not”


The preliminary conclusions of Lumiere Technology’s multispectral work as advised by M.Franck are the following: 


1 – Some large uniform black overpainting masks the whole of Leonardo’s original background in the portrait. It overlaps sharply the most sensitive outlines of the composition; this is the case for instance for the highly lit portion of the Lady’s profile and for the gracious curve of her left shoulder.  That stiffness is incompatible with Leonardo’s style, which was far more delicate. According to Leonardo, the human figure in portraits should be linked subtly with its background (here a dark and even one) by means of a chiaroscuro, whereby light and shadow would strongly contrast one another, yet without any harshness.

The multispectral camera has detected some traces of original pigment in the existing repainted background: it is still visible here and there on its surface. It was a brownish hue with some blue when Leonardo did the portrait, and his modulation of the paint film probably rendered the space surrounding the sitter at the onset. The same type of background appears in the computer image proposed by the Lumiere Technology experts now


2 - The lower section of the portrait has been substantially repainted by past restorers, thus disturbing the image to a great extent.

The relating repaints have been suppressed by computer. As a consequence, the Lady’s left hand is far more convincing now, while the sleeves in her costume are closer to their original colour (a bright deep red). The space as meant by Leonardo is more coherent as a result in that zone.


3 - Cecilia Gallerani’s transparent gauze bonnet has been delivered from awkward retouching located around her right ear (concealed by the hair) and going down very sharply under the jaw right to her chin. The Lady’s coiffure is more graceful now, while the fine yellow twisted lace that softly underlines her eyebrows has been retrieved: when Leonardo painted the masterpiece it would follow the outline of the jaw’s side shown to the viewer also.

4 – Although the painting’s overall condition is excellent, it is covered with innumerable tiny repaints. Those have been suppressed by computer, thus freshening up the tones in the Lady’s lovely face, her décolleté, the embroidered ribbon around it, the pearl necklace, her right hand, the black ribbon of the sleeves, the blue mantle and the red velvet of the gown, etc.

The ermine had been retouched in the past equally. Thanks to the “computer restorers” its white fur, meticulously depicted by Leonardo, can be viewed again.


5 - The multispectral camera has put Leonardo’s specific flesh painting into light, in the Lady’s décolleté mostly. Much as what the Master’s practice was before 1500, the paint has been worked up, partly, with his fingers. Quite interestingly, fingerprints gathering up in a sort of a network, reveal how Leonardo, thanks to his “finger blending technique”, used to achieve the soft transitions between light and shadow.


6 - In the section of the anatomy’s outlines grossly disfigured by the black overlapping background, the virtual cleaning operations have suppressed this drawback and given to those crucial elements (along the left side of the face, along the sitter’s left shoulder) an aspect more suitable to Leonardo’s own style


7 – Finally, through this meticulous, rigorous computer restoration, the Lady with an ermine is made more coherent in terms of style with regard to Leonardo’s authentic production at the time of his first stay in Milan (c.1482-1499).

The “3-D” effect whished by Leonardo has become far more evident while the means he used to achieve it seem much clearer now. The strong, sculptural relief of the figure results from the contrasted illumination. Simultaneously, the marked contrapposto movement suggested by the artist, brought into evidence more clearly also, gives real life to the sitter.



** Pascal Cotte, is a photographer who has invented the multispectral camera with which he was required by the Louvre’s Laboratory to digitize the Mona Lisa (2004). He has also created Lumiere Technology and specialises in virtual cleanings, an operation that includes the computer scientific recovery of true colors in old master painting. The multispectral camera supplies images of the highest precision ever achieved.

Pascal Cotte. 


Contact Press:
Lumiere Technology

mailto: info@lumiere-technology.com