Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks” Finds Hidden Sketches: Including Angels and Baby Christ

Leonard da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks” painting sits covered with the artist’s original sketch. Although it has been studied by scholars and admirers for more than 500 years, scientists and art scholars from Imperial College London and the National Gallery of England have discovered more. Using X-ray scanning and the latest algorithms, the researchers found hidden sketches in the famous painting.

Researchers at the National Gallery in the UK have been asked to investigate more deeply after discovering that there are hidden parts of the painting using infrared imaging. Based on this work, the researchers used a noninvasive method called macro-X-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) scanning to double-examine each pixel in the painting to detect different chemical elements in the materials used by Leonardo, including zinc. The researchers then developed an algorithm to sort large amounts of data.

“Each pixel contains a different amount of each element in a different layer,” says Pier Luigi of Imperial College London. We analyze each pixel to see all the shades in the painting before combining each pixel. This reveals clearer images of angels and babies. “