Mona Lisa, the icon of Western painting, painted at the very beginning of the 16th century by Leonardo da Vinci, needs no introduction.
In Master Verrocchio’s workshop, Leonardo learned a method of preparing paintings which included making a drawing on the paper and then transferring it onto the wood board by spolvero. In this technique, already described by Cennini in the 15th century, the drawing is first perforated with a needle, producing holes along the contours, and then placed on the plank; the subsequent application of a powdered black pigment leaves a series of black dots.
Differently from other portraits painted by Leonardo, for instance, The Lady with an Ermine, Ginevra de’ Benci and La Belle Ferronnière, where the spolvero had been detected, no traces of this technique were discovered in Mona Lisa.
The traditional means of observing spolvero under paintings is to use IR photography and IR reflectography. Despite the advancement in this techniques, also recent studies did not evidence the presence of this technique in Mona Lisa.
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THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS
The increasing demand for alternatives to fossil fuels lead scientists to search for new materials to be used as energy vectors. Nowadays, it is generally accepted that hydrogen is the best solution to this issue. One of the reasons why hydrogen is not yet commonly employed in everyday life lies in the lack of a safe, practical and effective method for its storage. A possible solution that meets the above requirements is given by intermetallic hydrides, which can be charged with hydrogen at high-pressure to form stable hydrides, then releasing hydrogen by heating the host intermetallic.
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