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22 Apr 2015

iGuzzini lighting to protect Da Vinci's Last Supper

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iGuzzini has implemented an innovative lighting scheme for Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper, with features that calibrate the micro-environment conditions to prevent further deterioration of the masterpiece.

The Italian polymath – an artist, architect, inventor and engineer among other things – experimented with a dry-wall painting method used on wood for the famous mural. The result made it very delicate and the humid conditions in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church led to its gradual decay from the 1500s.

As part of the International Year of Light and Milan Expo, the architectural lighting specialist iGuzzini developed a system over six months that uses LED lighting and air filters to reduce the average temperature in the room by 90% and lessen humidity. LED tonalities and therefore the colour spectrum were carefully calibrated for the pigments.

Da Vinci's artworks reveal a close attention to the treatment of light, and use chiaroscuro and sfumato to sculpt his subjects in 2D. He painted the Last Supper to be brighter on the right as if lit by the natural light from the left-hand window. iGuzzini used a combination of 50 and 35 LEDs to enhance this effect. An additional artificial glow was created around the painting to remind visitors of its religious significance.

The lighting firm has also been heavily involved in the Expo, lighting the Italian, Chilean and German pavilions, and the UEA offering by Foster + Partners. In addition, iGuzzini worked with lighting design consultant David Atkinson on the Israel, France, Angola and Thailand pavilions.

newsletter 2015