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Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in a new gigapixel image (openculture.com)
258 points by omarchowdhury 42 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 56 comments

Note that this is a copy by Giampietrino, a pupil of Leonardo, not the original mural in Milan. For comparison, here's a high resolution version of the original: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/The_Last....

The original has probably ceased to be the "original" since about 1550 though. This copy is ironically closer to what the original looked like.

Yeah, it's a miracle the original even survived, given that it was used as a stable, stones were thrown at it and the convent was bombed during the war. The 'Damage and restoration' section of the Wikipedia article is almost comical: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Supper_(Leonardo)#Dam....

> In 1821, Stefano Barezzi, an expert in removing whole frescoes from their walls intact, was called in to remove the painting to a safer location; he badly damaged the center section before realizing that Leonardo's work was not a fresco.

This made me laugh. I wasn't aware of its history. It's amazing how much effort has gone into preserving it over the centuries.

Da Vinci's experiments with "frescoes" were tragicomical themselves. The guy really tried his darnedest to make frescoes as lifelike as oil paintings. Results: most of his fresco works are either lost or need a lot of restoration work.

* use in a small and inconspicuous portion of the fresco before attempting to remove the fresco

Don't forget that they chiseled a doorway into it too, in order to save a bit of time walking around the long way to lunch.

Even though it went through different restoration processes, the original is still the original

Much like the Amphitheatre Nimes is not closer to the original Colosseum, even though it suffered much less damages over the centuries and had virtually no visible restoration (some of the Colosseum ones are quite bad honestly)

The last supper importance is not just the painting itself, but also who originally made it and the history behind it.

I don't see the argument as the second painting is the original, just that it more closely resembles what they original may have looked like. There are some recent art restorations which exemplify how much the art can change. Both pieces together add to the story.

I think that "it's not the original since 1550" it's an overstatement

The copy was made at roughly the same time of the original, so it is a great reference for how it should look, but the techniques used for the original Last supper are so different that they are very different in terms of its importance and the difficulties to preserve it and the fact that Leonardo made it explain why the original suffered more damages throughout history (it was simply more famous)

Like the Amphitheatre of El Jem, that was used to film The Galdiator, and the original Colosseum.

We're lucky we have an almost exact copy to look at, that's for sure.

Funny you should mention that. I just watched this last night:


British writer James Miller (Shimell) is in Tuscany to give a talk to a group about his new book, titled Certified Copy, which argues that, in art, issues of authenticity are irrelevant because every reproduction is itself an original, and even the original is a copy of another form.

(As to the film itself, it got a little too serious for me.)

It's a stunningly beautiful work, but it also reminds me about the fragility of works.

The original is badly damaged. Thankfully, we have this copy, and now that it's been recorded electronically in theory we will at least have this version forever. But in practice, I fear that a lot of data will disappear. Modern hard drives and ssds have a frighteningly short lifetime. There are some organizations that are trying to record some of this, such as the internet archive, but it is not clear to me that they are going to last in the long term.

I would like to be more confident that much of the works of the present and past (like this) will survive into the future.

I think it will as long as people can download it, have their own copy, re-upload and share it peer-to-peer.

I think the single most important thing is to make sure to have many copies around the world and not just to rely on one or a few (even if they are well protected and properly conserved).

Things like this seriously need a download link, otherwise it might be archived but really it's just a copy in Google's servers.

The original is badly damaged, and then damaged more by over-cleaning, one of the misplaced enthusiasms of our age.

By stripping away everything but the original paint (of which often not much is left), irreplaceable information is lost, because the retouchers had often seen the original or more of it, and restored detail that had been damaged.

What remains after these extreme cleanings is too often little more than the underpainting and initial sketch. It's a great loss and a great pity.

'copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper'

This version is oil paint on canvas, whereas Leonardo’s version was painted in tempera and oil on a dry wall – an unusual use of materials – so has flaked and deteriorated badly. It probably didn’t help that Napoleon used the original Last Supper’s room as a stable during his invasion of Milan. This painting is thought to have been painted by Giampietrino and possibly Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio – both pupils of Leonardo. It’s believed to be the most accurate record of the original, and has been used to help with its conservation.

In this copy you can see details now not visible in the original, such as this overturned salt-cellar next to Judas’s right arm. Spilled salt was commonly considered a bad omen in 16th-century western Europe. You can also see Jesus’s feet, which were lost in the original when a door was built into the wall that the work is painted on.

Yeah, thanks. I wondered what had happened to the doorway below Jesus. :)

"In 1652, a doorway was cut through the (then unrecognisable) painting, and later bricked up"


Wow! The level of detail is so amazing. I have seen photos of the painting online and in books, but had never noticed the halos around each of the disciples except for Judas.

That's probably because this is not the original, but a contemporary copy. There are no halos visible on this high resolution image of the original. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/The_Last...

Obvious question: Is this powered by the same frontend technology as Google Maps? It sure feels like it.

I don't know a lot about google maps, but I worked on the zoomable image formats used in Google Arts and Culture. It's quite interesting, because they tried to prevent the image tiles from being downloaded by signing tile URLs and encrypting the JPEG images. I think there is a lot to learn about the format by reading the sources of dezoomify :

- https://github.com/lovasoa/dezoomify/blob/master/dezoomers/g...

- https://github.com/lovasoa/dezoomify/blob/master/dezoomers/g...

The resolution of this copy is amazing. I never noticed details like the sandals or the houses+castles in the background. Amazing work!

Can anyone recommend a working script that downloads and stitches the highest resolution image available from here:


I maintain a suite of opensource tools that do exactly that: download zoomable image tiles and stitch them together.

- dezoomify (https://dezoomify.ophir.dev) is a web application. It is super easy to use, but the final size of the image is limited by the browser. No browser can create gigapixel canvases.

- dezoomify-rs (https://lovasoa.github.io/dezoomify-rs/) is a command-line desktop application for Linux, MacOS, and Windows that does the same thing. It has no limitation (other than the one imposed by the file formats themselves) on the final image size.

- dezoomify-extension (https://lovasoa.github.io/dezoomify-extension/) is a browser extension to extract zoomable image URLs from webpages. It is less relevant for google arts and culture, where the zoomable image URL is the URL of the viewer page itself.

If someone is interested by how the zoomable image format used by google arts works, the source code of dezoomify-rs is quite understandable: https://github.com/lovasoa/dezoomify-rs/tree/master/src/goog...

In the case of this image, I'm not sure the highest zoom level saved as a single PNG makes a lot of sense. No image viewer will accept to open a PNG file of this size. For JPEG, the format does not even allow images of that size.

Really great tools. Worked flawlessly with the mentioned copy of the original post. Thank you for this!

love these tools, have used them on multiple projects, thanks so much for your work.

Edit: I’m a dummy.

Yes, as I wrote, the final size of the image is limited by the browser. See [1] for more details. The highest resolution version can only be downloaded by dezoomify-rs [2], not dezoomify.

[1] https://github.com/lovasoa/dezoomify/issues/296

[2] https://lovasoa.github.io/dezoomify-rs/

It's old software but I believe this can also stitch 'flat' panorama's:


See "Stitching flat scanned images": http://hugin.sourceforge.net/tutorials/scans/en.shtml

I used Hugin to stitch a bunch of building site blueprints just last week. It was painful... just very unintuitive and hard to grasp. Very powerful software though. Just keep in mind it was built to stitch panorama photos, compensate for lens deformation, point of view, etc.

Stitching flatbed scans is not the best use case for Hugin and it shows.

I used the same tutorial linked by Op http://hugin.sourceforge.net/tutorials/scans/en.shtml

Note that Hugin requires overlap between scans. I would test MS ICE first if I were you (less powerful, but way simpler) https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/product/computation...


It takes a while and I think it works best in Google Chrome.

Thanks for the link, but I tried it previously and it doesn’t download nowhere near the full resolution.

When someone has it, can you please make it a torrent?

I want this too, so that I can print it out!

Thanks to zoomable version I was able to relive times of dial-up modems again.

Is it just me? I cannot find a a link to the actual gigpixel image anywhere on that page.

It looks like it is split into multiple sections. When you inspect the page under the 'Network' tab, you'll find at least 4 individual pieces that combine to form the whole image.

Note, that this is A COPY of Last Supper, mentioned in the article but not prominently enough:

"The Royal Academy of Arts and Google teamed up on a high-resolution scan of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted by his students."

This must have been the first time 13 people used only one side of the table...

To be fair, there are clearly the plates set on the other side. The painting is supposed to catch the moment when some of the apostoles stood up to get together with their comrades. you can see some of them standing behind the back of the others, not sitting.

Also, the apostole on the Jesus's right is clearly a woman...

There are no chairs on that side. Also note all those pieces of bread and fruit very near the edge.

And they did that for what? A selfie?

No, they did that because Jesus had just broken the news that he'll be betrayed by Judas. The whole scene shows the shock and a heated discussion of that revealation.

Shocking, but no reason for them to jump to the other side of the table. That only works on fiction.

Maybe it's distributed systems thinking, but they should really paint six more of these copies so that we can withstand a random failure of any three.

That sounds wasteful. Just use some good erasure coding on the individual apostles.

side note: what is that date format c.1515-20 it's in the Google & Arts Culture link from this article

That just means "circa ['around'] 1515-1520 [CE]".

oh thanks, I thought it meant date the post was created so I was trying to figure out how to match that date to now/near now... makes more sense.

<3 Art ... boo open culture !

Good culture > open culture

Thanks Omar!

This is a blog post summarizing another blog post [1] about a page [2] from Google Arts and Culture with the images itself. If possible, it would probably be better to update the URL to one of the other pages, as this one does not add much additional information.

1: http://www.openculture.com/2020/06/an-immaculate-copy-of-leo...

2: https://artsandculture.google.com/story/explore-the-last-sup...

Heads up for anyone using HTTPS Everywhere on openculture.com: you'll just get a "Forbidden" page.

"Table for 26 please." "But there are only 13 of you." "Yes, but we're all going to sit on the same side."

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