Gallery: Hidden Gems in Renaissance Art

Theodelinda's Frescoes

Comparisons of imaging techniques on Theodelinda fresco

(Image credit: Optics Express)

Part of a fresco by the Zavattaris in the Theodelinda’s Chapel near Milan, Italy. The artworks, executed between 1440 and 1446 are extremely rich and complex, featuring different fresco techniques, gold and silver decorations and reliefs. Color photography (a), and imaging in the NIR (b), compared to the TQR image (c).

"The Resurrection"

"The Resurrection" by Piero della Francesca

(Image credit: Optics Express)

Piero della Francesca's "The Resurrection" was painted around 1460. Under new imaging techniques, researchers can see differences in pigments and painting style not visible to the naked eye.

Unseen Detail

Art conservation views of "The Resurrection"

(Image credit: Optics Express)

“The Resurrection” by Piero della Francesca (detail): NIR image (left) and TQR image (right). A Original area; B and C painted integration; D Restoration plaster; E Green Earth pigment; F and G pigments with similar behavior in the visible and different reflectivity in infrared.

Resurrection Details

Details on "The Resurrection"

(Image credit: Optics Express)

In "The Resurrection," TQR techniques show retouching in (A), odd spots on the shield in (B), and different painting techniques in (C) around the soldier's sword. In area (D), the background is clearer using infrared reflection techniques, and pigments reflect differently in area E versus visible light.

Fresco Copy

A fresco model copy

(Image credit: Optics Express)

A fresco model, copied from Italian Renaissance painter Domenico Ghirlandaio in about 1930. Researchers used this copy to test their new imaging technique. Certain details popped, such as drawing traces in the face and finishing touches on the mouth.

TQR Setup

TQR art conservation setup

(Image credit: Optics Express)

The setup of the TQR system. Two halogen lamps shine onto the fresco while a camera record infrared light that reflects off of the art.

Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.