Monday, July 26, 2010

The Mona Lisa: Secret Revealed

Leonardo da Vinci is revered for his ability to blend tones and colors without any visible brushstroke. His famed technique of sfumato gave the painting a hazy quality and an illusion of depth and shadow. No consensus has been reached on how Da Vinci generated this effect ... until now.

Using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, results prove that Da Vinci was an experimental artist with an unbelievably dextrous hand. In the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci overlayed four separate layers of paint and included several sub-layers of glaze – with different thicknesses and varying amounts of added pigments including manganese oxide.

The Mona Lisa's paint layer thickness ranges from 1-2µm - 40µm. Note: a red blood cell's diameter is 8µm; a human hair is 100µm thick.

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