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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Editor: James C. Wyant
  • Vol. 47, Iss. 12 — Apr. 20, 2008
  • pp: 2146–2154

Multispectral camera and radiative transfer equation used to depict Leonardo’s sfumato in Mona Lisa

Mady Elias and Pascal Cotte  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 12, pp. 2146-2154 (2008)

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The technique used by Leonardo da Vinci to paint flesh tints—the sfumato—has never been scientifically depicted until now. From 100,000,000 reflectance spectra recorded on Mona Lisa, a virtual removal of the varnish is first obtained. A unique umber pigment is then identified in the upper layer and an exceptional maximum of the color saturation is underlined, both characteristics of a glaze technique. The modeling calling upon the radiative transfer equation confirms this maximum of saturation, the identification of an umber in the upper layer, and moreover underlines a mixture of 1% vermilion and 99% lead white in the base layer. Finally, the modeling, using the auxiliary function method, explains the spectacular maximum of saturation by the multiple scattering.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(030.5620) Coherence and statistical optics : Radiative transfer
(290.4210) Scattering : Multiple scattering
(300.6550) Spectroscopy : Spectroscopy, visible
(330.1690) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color
(110.4234) Imaging systems : Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging

ToC Category:
Radiative Transfer

Original Manuscript: January 8, 2008
Revised Manuscript: March 13, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: March 14, 2008
Published: April 18, 2008

Virtual Issues
Vol. 3, Iss. 5 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Mady Elias and Pascal Cotte, "Multispectral camera and radiative transfer equation used to depict Leonardo's sfumato in Mona Lisa," Appl. Opt. 47, 2146-2154 (2008)

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