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AI helps discover hidden drawings & # 39; by Leonardo da Vinci when mapping traces of faint zinc on an old canvas

An AI helps discover secret sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, which were previously hidden under layers of paint on the canvas of & # 39; Virgin on the Rocks & # 39 ;, one of his most famous paintings

  • A team from the National Gallery discovers hints of a hidden drawing in a da Vinci
  • The team collaborated with a group from Imperial College London to analyze the complete chemical composition of the paint.
  • They used an AI to look for zinc, a common ingredient in the first pigments.
  • Using the zinc traces, the AI ​​gave them a complete picture of the hidden drawing

Researchers have enlisted an AI to help them discover hidden drawings on the canvas of one of Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous paintings.

The project was a collaboration between Dr. Catherine Higgitt of the National Gallery and a team from Imperial College London, led by Pier Luigi Dragotti.

Higgitt and his team at the Gallery had discovered small sketches on the canvas of the "Virgin on the rocks" by da Vinci, which he had originally been commissioned to create in 1483 for a chapel in Milan.

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Researchers in London discovered a hidden drawing on the canvas of one of Leonard da Vinci's most famous paintings, & # 39; Virgin on the rocks & # 39; (in the photo on top)

Researchers in London discovered a hidden drawing on the canvas of one of Leonard da Vinci's most famous paintings, & # 39; Virgin on the rocks & # 39; (in the photo on top)

The sketches seemed to imply an earlier version of the image that differed from the final version, which depicts the Virgin with a child Jesus and a child John the Baptist in a cave.

The sketches showed wings, which suggested that da Vinci might have originally planned for an angel to be in the painting, as well as a different position for the Madonna.

Higgitt contacted the Dragotti team at Imperial College London, and they used a new technique called macro X-ray fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF) to record the complete chemical composition of the paint.

The team noted that the drawings had traces of zinc and considered that Da Vinci could have originally used a zinc-based pigment to delineate the image.

The team assigned an AI program to isolate all traces of zinc that had been recorded during the MA-XRF scan, and in doing so revealed an almost complete version of the sketch that had previously been hidden under the full paint.

The full version of & # 39; Virgin on the Rocks & # 39; It was created for a chapel in Milan in 1483, and represented a baby Jesus and a child John the Baptist guarded by the Virgin Mary.

The full version of & # 39; Virgin on the Rocks & # 39; It was created for a chapel in Milan in 1483, and represented a baby Jesus and a child John the Baptist guarded by the Virgin Mary.

The full version of & # 39; Virgin on the Rocks & # 39; It was created for a chapel in Milan in 1483, and represented a baby Jesus and a child John the Baptist guarded by the Virgin Mary.

A group from the National Gallery in London found traces of an earlier sketch of the painting on the canvas, suggesting that their power had originally been an angel, and that Mary and the child Jesus would have been positioned differently.

A group from the National Gallery in London found traces of an earlier sketch of the painting on the canvas, suggesting that their power had originally been an angel, and that Mary and the child Jesus would have been positioned differently.

A group from the National Gallery in London found traces of an earlier sketch of the painting on the canvas, suggesting that their power had originally been an angel, and that Mary and the child Jesus would have been positioned differently.

The group used a process called macro X-ray fluorescence scanning, which created a record of all the different chemicals present on the canvas. When they programmed an AI to isolate only zinc, they discovered an almost complete version of the original sketch

The group used a process called macro X-ray fluorescence scanning, which created a record of all the different chemicals present on the canvas. When they programmed an AI to isolate only zinc, they discovered an almost complete version of the original sketch

The group used a process called macro X-ray fluorescence scanning, which created a record of all the different chemicals present on the canvas. When they programmed an AI to isolate only zinc, they discovered an almost complete version of the original sketch

"Before, we received very weak signals from zinc inside the paint due to its overlap with other elements, but the algorithm has given us more confidence in the signals related to the drawing," said Higgitt. Phys.org.

Dragotti described the process as something similar to finding a needle in a haystack, something that requires a lot of labor and that became much less daunting when an AI could handle the large amount of data needed to find the so-called needle.

"It's really a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack," Dragotti said. "And we can find this needle automatically and effectively exactly because we know we are looking for a needle and not something else."

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