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Recording Michelangelo's <i> Epifania </i> at the British Museum
Recording Michelangelo's Epifania at the British Museum

Factum Foundation used high-resolution 3D scanning to digitise the surface of Michelangelo's Epifania (1550-1553), a collaboration with the British Museum and their Deparment of Collections Care. The results of the 3D scan will be mapped onto other datasets, including visible colour, UV and IR, to create a layered archive of information that can be used for in-depth research into the cartoon's creation and history.

For the week-long recording, the fragile cartoon could only be positioned flat on a purpose-built supporting platform, which meant Factum had to design a new horizontal configuration for the Lucida 3D Scanner to enable the digitisation of this large-scale object.

More information.


The lost silver map of Al-Idrisi

Factum Foundation’s recreation of the lost silver map of Al-Idrisi is now complete. The map, a reconstruction of a lost 12th-century original following a 16th-century Ottoman copy, was exhibited at Daniel Crouch Rare Books at the Masterpiece London art fair, and will be on view at the exhibition ‘Talking Maps’ at the Bodleian Library in Oxford until 8th March 2020.

The 12th-century cartographer Al-Idrisi drew on centuries of Greek, Roman, and Islamic mapmaking knowledge to create a vast silver map of the world for Roger II of Sicily. Although the silver disc is now lost, Al-Idrisi’s geography is known through later copies of a book of 70 regional maps which he created to accompany it.

Over the past three years, Factum Foundation has used the most advanced digital technologies to create a new interpretation of Al-Idrisi’s map, which has been routed onto silver using CNC milling. Find out more about the history of the map and the technologies used to recreate it here


Book launch: ‘Antonio Canova. Atelier’

A new book, Antonio Canova. Atelier, tells the story of the ongoing collaboration between Factum Foundation and the Musei Civici di Bassano del Grappa, a project which is transforming the conservation and display of drawings and sculptures by the neoclassical sculptor Canova.

Since 2016, Factum Foundation has worked with the museums to digitise 18 of Canova’s albums and sketchbooks, create facsimiles of two albums and of a terracotta maquette of the Three Graces, and digitally restore a 4-metre high statue of a horse. You can find out more about these projects here. The new volume tells the story of these artworks from their creation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to their technological transformation today.

The book has been edited by the museums’ director Chiara Casarin in collaboration with the founder of Factum Foundation Adam Lowe. It will be launched at the Museo Civico on 18th July 2019.


Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

A new film and website have been created as part of the ongoing campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Gavin Kingcome’s short film contains interviews with different people affected by the decision to close the foundry, from current bell-ringers to representatives of the East London Mosque, the foundry’s nearest neighbour, who were never consulted by the property developer about plans to convert the foundry into a boutique hotel.

The new website, www.savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com, explains why the development proposal should be rejected and provides details of how to object. You can find latest campaign news, as well as further advice on letters of objection, on the Spitalfields Life blog here.

Factum Foundation remains committed to the campaign to save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. In June last year, in collaboration with the UK Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, the Foundation put forward a proposal to reinvent the foundry for the future, explaining how an undated foundry will be able to integrate the latest digital recording, processing, and outputting technologies to create bells for the modern world.


Developing new technologies for 3D scanning
Developing new technologies for 3D scanning

Factum Foundation is constantly looking for new ways to record accurate information of the surface of paintings. Currently in development is the photometric scanner, a fast, portable system that will be capable of recording high-resolution 3D surface texture for both visualisation and re-materialisation.

The scanning system will be based on the techniques known as photometric stereo and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). Both employ computational methods to extract detailed information about the surface of an object using 2D images taken under specific lighting arrangements. Factum’s scanning system will integrate data from other 3D recording techniques with RTI-/photometric-stereo-derived depth maps to produce 3D data with a closer correspondence to the original surface than currently captured by the Lucida 3D Scanner, designed by Manuel Franquelo with the team from Factum.

The research is being led by Jorge Cano and Enrique Esteban. In recent months they have been joined in the Madrid workshops by Adam Weigert and Abhijit Dhanda, students from the Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) at Carleton University, Canada.


Digitisation workshop with students from ISIA Urbino
Digitisation workshop with students from ISIA Urbino

Carlos Bayod, Guendalina Damone and Otto Lowe from Factum Foundation's 3D scanning department organised and taught a five-day workshop focussing on non-contact recording technologies for cultural heritage to ten students from the Photography MA course from the design university ISIA Urbino.

The theory classes took place at ARCHiVe's studios at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, but the students were also able to take part in fieldwork recording projects at various institutions around Venice. The valuable data they scanned will be processed and shared in coming weeks, but will also find a permanent home in ARCHiVe's digital storage facilites and maye give rise to larger projects for the Centre. Learn more.


A late-15th-century altarpiece by the Maestro de Perea
A late-15th-century altarpiece by the Maestro de Perea

Factum Foundation is collaborating with Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli on a new digital preservation project involving the surface and colour recording of a late-15th-century altarpiece known as the Retablo del Maestro de Perea. The recording was carried out with the aim of creating a database of the current state of conservation of the altarpiece, whose 14 panels have recently been restored by the Fundación, and will permit close study, wider dissemination, and possible reproduction as a conservation facsimile. The project follows previous collaborations with the Fundación Medinaceli involving the recording of the Sepulchre of Cardinal Tavera and architectural elements in Casa de Pilatos; a further exciting new collaboration will be announced soon.


A 3D scan of Fra Angelico's Annunciation

Fra Angelico’s The Annunciation (1425-26) depicts on the one hand the Archangel Gabriel's Annunciation to the Virgin and on the other the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. In the past year, the Annunciation has undergone a complex process of cleaning and conservation.

Factum Foundation contributed to the documentation effort by carrying out a high-resolution 3D recording of the painting following the restoration, which is of particular interest in this case due to the superb surface work executed by the artist. Learn more.


Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019
Open call for the new edition of Bando Lucida 2019

Last year, Factum Foundation co-hosted the Open Care conference alongside the Italian art restoration experts at their Milanese laboratory, marking the second edition of the Bando Lucida initiative. This scheme aimed to return a deteriorated work of art to public use through supporting its restoration as assisted by Factum’s Lucida 3D Scanner, with the selection of the endangered piece carried out by an independent specialist committee.

The call for projects is now open for the 2019 edition of Bando Lucida. You can download the full text here.

The previous winner, the Angelo Annunciante by Gaudenzio Ferrari, was presented in its restored state at a conference on the 29th January 2019. This restoration process that took place at Open Care was explored alongside a series of talks, including one by Guendalina Damone from Factum’s Lucida Lab Milano.

© Open Care - Servizi per l'Arte


<i>Madame de Pompadour in the Frame</i>: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor
Madame de Pompadour in the Frame: An exhibition at Waddesdon Manor

Factum Foundation is delighted to be collaborating with the Rothschild Foundation at Waddesdon Manor on an exhibition exploring the new perspectives which facsimiles can provide on existing works of art.

The exhibition centres around two facsimiles produced by Factum of works depicting Madame de Pompadour, the erudite and powerful mistress of Louis XV, by François Boucher; one being his monumental famous 1756 portrait, now displayed at Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and the other a small oil sketch held at Waddeston. A combination of the Lucida 3D scanner and panoramic photography were utilised to record both the fine surface relief and colour of the canvas.

The facsimiles is presented at Waddesdon in an exhibition, organised by Factum Foundation and Waddesdon Manor and designed by Skene Catling de la Peña. Running from May 23 to October 27 2019, this allows visitors to examine the facsimiles and explore the process of making them; they are accompanied by objects and images relating to the paintings from Waddesdon’s superlative 18th century collections.

Further information on both the facsimiles and the exhibition can be found here.


Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner
Recording “The Circle” Stradivari with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner

Factum Foundation is collaborating with luthiers Julia Sarano and Robert Brewer Young on a pilot project to create a unique 3D study of a rare violin, with a precision measured in microns, as part of a multi-layered instrument archive. “The Circle” Stradivari, named for the partial circle inscribed on the back by the maker, is a celebrated instrument that dates from 1701 at the outset of Antonio Stradivari’s ‘golden period’. The instrument is generously on loan for this study from London violin dealers J&A Beare. Data recorded with the Lucida 3D Laser Scanner, will be used to scale a high-resolution photogrammetry model of the instrument. This can provide unique information for conservators, experts, collectors, scholars and makers.

Sarano and Young are working to build up a comprehensive catalogue of information on fine violins and other stringed instruments. This study will serve as an extension of the historic W. E. Hill & Sons archive.


Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká
Digital and physical reconstruction of the vandalised sacred cave of Kamukuwaká

The cave of Kamukuwaká, an important sacred petroglyph site representing the cosmogony of the inhabitants of Upper-Xingu (Mato Grosso, Brasil) and registered national monument was intentionally destroyed in 2018. Culture is under threat and digitisation of Cultural Heritage is the most effective way to monitor its condition.

The data captured from this trip was combined with photographic documentation dating from before the attack to produce an entire 3D recreation of the cave. The Wauja have been working with the team in Factum to ensure the digital recreation is perfect and that the petroglyphs are correct. The digital restoration is now complete and the data was materialised through a 3 axis CNC machine milling directly onto medium density polyurethane at a resolution of 200 microns. The high-resolution details from the digital restoration are being integrated manually onto the surface, before the application of an acrylic resin.

All resources are now being focused on the physical reconstruction of the cave that will be sent to Brazil upon completion.

Learn more.

Short video.


Training at Stoppelaëre House
Training at Stoppelaëre House

Since February 2019, the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative's training programme is ongoing at Stoppelaëre House, at the entrance of the Valley of the Kings. Entirely funded by the Factum Foundation thanks to generous donations, this landmark building was fully restored by the Tarek Waly Centre for Architecture and Heritage, in collaboration with Factum.

In February 2017, Stoppelaëre House was formally opened by Khaled El Enany, the Minister of Antiquities and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. Stoppelaëre House is at the core of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative. The inauguration brought attention to TNPI as a real innovator in the field of heritage management and sustainable tourism.

The 3D Scanning, Training and Archiving Centre is being run by Aliaa Ismail. Aliaa and the first two fully trained operators, Abdel Raheem Ghaba and Mahmoud Salem have started the training of Amany Hassan Mohamed Ahmed and Mahmoud Abdellah Mohamed Ammar, selected from 26 applicants proposed by the Ministry of Antiquities.

The training will be carried out throughout a period of six months and will ensure the transfer of the skills necessary for digital preservation, such as high-resolution 3D scanning, close-range photogrammetry, composite colour photography, data processing and archiving.

The development of local skills and economy is vital for the recording and preservation of cultural heritage. Factum Foundation needs financial support to fulfill its mission to safeguard the tombs of the Theban Necropolis through the application of new digital technologies, and the creation of exact facsimiles of tombs that are now either closed to the public for conservation or in need of closure to preserve them for future generations.


Parmigianino’s 'Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror'
Parmigianino’s 'Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror'

Factum Foundation was asked to create a facsimile of this work for MUMOK's exhibition ‘Vertigo. Op Art and a History of Deception 1520 –1970’ (25 May - 26 October 2019); this will explore the Op-Art movement of the 1960s and its roots in historical artistic movements that have contemplated the nature of perception and illusion, such as Mannerism. Parmigianino's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror belongs to the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna and is on display in its Picture Gallery.

The painting plays cleverly with a convex mirror’s ability to offer a distorted representation of the person who looks into it. Parmigianino’s elaborate illusion, however, significantly complicated the rematerialisation process. This is because it is impossible to print colour directly onto a convex surface. Instead, Factum’s innovative print studio worked with a flexible adhesive ‘skin’ that was moulded to take on the shape and subtle texture of a high-resolution 3D print of the surface made by Océ - A Canon Company.

Find out more about the recording and complex reproduction process.


Facsimile of a ceiling by Giuseppe Salviati installed at the Palazzo Grimani
Facsimile of a ceiling by Giuseppe Salviati installed at the Palazzo Grimani

A sixteenth-century circular ceiling canvas painted by Giuseppe Salviati (Giuseppe Porta) for the Palazzo Grimani in Venice has been re-materialised as a facsimile and installed in its original location.

The painting, now in the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, shows the dispute between Minerva and Neptune. Factum recorded both the ceiling itself and the oval space which it once occupied, using this data to ensure that the final facsimile fitted into its original context.

The ceiling can be seen from May in the Palazzo Grimani’s recently restored Vestibolo della Tribuna. You can find out more about making and installing the facsimile ceiling here.


Cross River Monoliths
Cross River Monoliths

The Cross River or Ikom monoliths are some of the most important sculptural works in Sub-Saharan Africa. A team from Factum Foundation is travelling to Cross River State in eastern Nigeria to continue a collaborative project with the Trust for African Rock Art and the University of Calabar to document and preserve the Ikom monoliths. The main focus of the trip is to establish how and when monoliths, identified in a number of international collections, left the country. Factum will also continue to record the monoliths in 3D and colour. Luke Tchalenko will be accompanying Ferdinand Saumarez Smith. He is the first photojournalist to be trained under the Factum-Frontline initiative.

The image was taken during a visit to Emangabe monolith site: this is one of two sites that have had preservation initiatives. Unfortunately, it appeared that even in a ‘protected’ site, fires from the neighbouring plantations had crossed over the protective wall and burnt the monoliths.

Factum Foundation has recorded four important monoliths in the Metropolitan Museum (New York), Quai Branly (Paris) and two with a private dealer in Belgium. Learn more.


Digitising Islamic Manuscripts in Dagestan, (2015-present)
Digitising Islamic Manuscripts in Dagestan, (2015-present)

The manuscript digitisation project at the IHAE in Dagestan has led to the discovery of a palimpsest with a 6th century Gospel of Luke. The original text was in the ancient Georgian script Asomtavruli written underneath a later Arabic text. It is one of only ten such manuscripts known to exist. Digitisation opens new avenues in scholarship ­– in this case, the high-resolution images of the palimpsest have been handed over to a Georgian specialist who continues the investigation into this unique object.

Since 2016, Factum Foundation has provided equipment, hardware, software and technical support to the IHAE’s Scanning Lab. This was done in collaboration with the Ziyavudin Magomedov PERI Charitable Foundation (Moscow, Makhachkala) and the Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage (Dubai).

The idea behind this digitisation project is to make the archive of over 3000 manuscripts digitally available at IHAE to specialists around the world, eventually also by recording some of over 25,000 manuscripts that are known to be held in private Dagestani collections. The availability of this archive online will widen the scope of research into the history, languages and religions of the Caucasus.

Factum Foundation is in currently looking for additional funds to continue this important manuscript digitisation effort in Dagestan.

Read more about the progress of the digitisation here.

Support this project by clicking on this link


Scanning the <i>Mappa Turchesca</i>
Scanning the Mappa Turchesca

Factum Foundation has recorded the cherry-wood printing blocks (matrices) of the 16th-century “Mappa Turchesca”, in an ARCHiVe project undertaken together with two students from the Università Iuav di Venezia (IUAV). The heart-shaped map, now in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, has text in both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish, and was probably designed by Venetian cartographers for sale to Ottoman buyers. The recording will allow damaged portions of the map to be digitally restored and printed in 3D.

Mario Costa and Fabio Martinello, who have interned at ARCHiVe in Venice and Factum Foundation in Madrid, conducted comparative tests between different recording techniques: photogrammetry, laser scanning, and Factum’s Lucida scanner. They determined that the most accurate data was that provided by the Lucida scanner. Having scanned the map with Factum’s help, they will process this data to digitally restore the matrices, allowing the creation of digital and physical versions without the marks of decay which make it hard to decipher the surface of the original.

While the Ottoman Turkish text around the map claims that it is the work of a slave from Tunis called Hajji Ahmed, the distinctively European heart shape and several errors in the Ottoman Turkish and in the Arabic used for the place-names make it likely that the map was a fully Venetian production – albeit an extraordinary testament to the complex ways links between Venetian and Ottoman empires in a period of great trans-Mediterranean trade and connectivity.

More details on the recording process can be found here.


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