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Facsimile of a Raphael
Facsimile of a Raphael

Factum Foundation is producing a facsimile of Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary (c. 1514-1516) by Raphael. The painting was a commission for the altar in Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo, but has had a long and unsettled history. The ship carrying the Christ Falling sank during the passage from Geneva to Sicily - the painting miraculously survived, appearing on the shores of Palermo. It was acquired by the Spanish Royal Family in the mid. 17th century and later taken to France by Napoleon where it was tranferred from its wooden panel to a canvas, a common French practice at the time. In 1822, the painting returned to the Royal Collection and now hangs in the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Factum's present objective is to recreate the painting and return it to Palermo. Santa Maria dello Spasimo has endured significant damage over the centuries, but the chapel and marble altarpiece still exist. Using data from high-resolution composite photography, the painting will be printed onto a thin skin of gesso and fixed to a re-materialised 'wooden' panel.

Map of Middle-earth
Map of Middle-earth

An innovative cartographic model of Middle-earth will be exhibited in the Bodleian Library's upcoming exhibition Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth from 1 June - 28 October. The exhibition comprises drawings and notes made by Tolkien whilst he was composing The Lord of the Rings.

Factum Foundation's contribution features a dynamic 3D map carved into translucent resin and surrounded by elvish lettering routed into aluminium. A screen-based video is visible through the translucent material and a video-projection, mounted above the map, adds further layers of factual and atmospheric information, including the routes taken by the main characters in the trilogy. Four-dimensional mapping of this kind is becoming increasingly important as the past and present inform each other.

To get some sense of the imaginative potential of the map, visit the exhibition in Oxford.

Recording Wenzel Jamnitzer's Bell
Recording Wenzel Jamnitzer's Bell

On June 18th, a team from Factum Foundation will be working at the British Museum to record one of Wenzel Jamnitzer's most important works: a decorative bell produced in the mid-16th century. The intricacy of the surface represents one of the most challenging objects that Factum Foundation has ever tried to record. The project represents a continuation in Factum's interest in Jamnitzer, which first involved translating his perspectival studies into 3D models; read more about that project here.

Ikom Monoliths: Paris & Brussels
Ikom Monoliths: Paris & Brussels

Next week, Factum Foundation will be travelling to Paris and Brussels to record two fine examples of Ikom monoliths in the collections of the Musée Quai Branly and gallery Didier Claes. The former was identified by Factum from a photograph in the archive of Philip Allison held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and was originally located at the site Eting Nta, the latter has not yet been identified in any photographs. Read more about the project here.

The Tomb of Cardinal Tavera
The Tomb of Cardinal Tavera

In its first collaboration with Fundación Casa Ducal Medinaceli, Factum Foundation is sending a team to record the Tomb of Cardinal Tavera, carved in Carrara marble by Alonso Berruguete (1488-1561) between 1554 and 1561. The tomb, one of the greatest examples of Spanish Renaissance sculpture, stands in the centre of the Church of John the Baptist in the Hospital de Tavera (Toledo). The digitisation using LiDAR and high-resolution photogrammetry will take place in late May 2018.

The recording was triggered when the National Gallery of Washington requested the top of the tomb in loan for a major exhibition on the work of Berruguete opening in 2019. The 3D recording will inform a conservation report and facilitate condition monitoring.

During the Spanish Civil War, the tomb suffered from vandalism and iconoclastic attacks and the Foundation will also digitise plaster casts created before the 1930s to produce a digital reconstruction of the pre-war state of the monument.

Toponyms in the Book of Roger
Toponyms in the Book of Roger

Aliaa Ismail, an egyptologist and Arabic speaker, is studying the toponyms in the 12th century map compiled by the Muslim cartographer Al-Idrisi from travel accounts collected in Sicily at the court of the Norman King Roger II. The maps in a 16th century Egyptian manuscript copy of the Book of Roger were digitised by Factum Foundation at the Bodleian Library in 2017. Using this data, Ismail will assemble a database cross-referencing the toponyms with the text that accompanies the map, tracing land and sea routes taken by travellers in the Middle Ages. Perhaps one of the most interesting examples describes the source of the Nile as the ‘Mountain of the Moon’. The waters were thought to collect in a lake from where they split into two rivers stretching north - the Egyptian Nile - and west - the Sudan Nile - at a mountain known as Al-Qasm or ‘the partition’.

Recording Murillo in Seville
Recording Murillo in Seville

In February and March 2018, Factum Foundation digitised two large paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – The Miracle of the Fish and Bread and Moses drawing water from the rock – at the Instituto Andaluz de Patrimonio Histórico in Seville.

The Lucida 3D Scanner was employed to scan the surface relief and colour information was captured using a technique known as panoramic photography, a method of obtaining high-resolution data by taking multiple images that are then stitched together. The data will become part of a multi-layered digital archive encompassing other analyses carried out at the IAPH. As part of the project, the paintings' two ornate gilded frames, made by Bernardo Simón de Pineda, one of the preeminent altarpiece sculptors of 17th century Seville, were also digitised with close-range photogrammetry. Given the problems many 3D recording systems have with shiny objects, the digitisation would have been considered almost impossible a couple of years ago.

This project was carried out in collaboration with the Hermandad de la Santa Claridad, the Caixa Foundation and the IAPH. Both paintings are currently on view at the exhibition “Murillo cercano: Miradas cruzadas” at the Hospital de la Claridad in Seville. To learn more about Murillo's work in Seville click here.

The Voices of the Amazon
The Voices of the Amazon

A radio programme that explores the culture of the Kuikuro people and is presented by one of Factum's long-term collaborators, Jerry Brotton, is now available on the BBC World service. The programme was recorded alongside Factum Foundation's work with People's Palace Projects and Takuma Kuikuro in Xingu last May.

Reconstructing a monument by Antonio Canova
Reconstructing a monument by Antonio Canova

Pedro Miro and Otto Lowe recorded the plaster fragments of an equestrian statue of Ferdinand IV made by Antonio Canova in 1806. The fragments of the monument are conserved at the Museo Civico in Bassano del Grappa in Italy. All fragments were recorded using photogrammetry and a white light Breuckmann scanner. The information obtained from both systems will be processed using Reality Capture to produce a 3D model of the original monument.

Our collaboration with the Museo Civico began last October with the recording of Canova's sculpture The Three Graces and the digitisation of various sketches and preparatory drawings. Learn more about the project here.

Joining forces to combat the destruction of Antiquities
Joining forces to combat the destruction of Antiquities

As a member of the core research team, the Factum Foundation has participated in all the Reach roundtables. The Reproduction of Art and Cultural Heritage Project (ReACH) was a research group dedicated to drafting guidelines for recording cultural heritage. ReACH coincides with the 150th anniversary of Henry Cole’s 1867 Convention, which helped usher in a period where museums actively engaged in the creation of reproductions of objects from around the world. The document is inspiring in its clarity, practicality and openness to the creation and sharing of reproductions. Read it here.

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