Raphael's Paul Preaching at Athens
'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael'
National Gallery, London
9 April - 31 July, 2022
The Cartoon facsimile on the right, next to its correspondent tapestry © Nigel Ip
Following the surface, colour and infrared recording of the seven Raphael Cartoons at the V&A in 2019, Factum Foundation and Factum Arte worked on the making of the facsimile of Paul Preaching at Athens Cartoon for the exhibition 'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael' (9 April - 31 July, 2022) at the National Gallery.
As the original Cartoons are unable to travel, the recording and rematerialisation of the data is another example of how facsimile provide new ways to study, disseminate and display artworks, such as this series of preparatory cartoons made by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel tapestries, on long-term loan to the V&A by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection.
In addition to providing data that can be now studied and explored on the V&A's website since 2020, the recording has enabled the production of facsimiles of the Cartoons, identical to the original under normal viewing conditions, for exhibition display. A facsimile of The Sacrifice at Lystra allowed to study, for the first time, the corresponding tapestry and its Cartoon side by side during the exhibition 'Raphael (1520-1483)' at the Scuderie del Quirinale in 2020.
The recording at the V&A was carried out using two complementary non-contact methods: the Lucida 3D Scanner and panoramic photography. Each Cartoon was digitised in colour and infrared at a resolution of 400–450 dpi at 1:1 scale, and at a surface resolution of 100 microns (generating render images at 254 dpi at 1:1 scale).
Each layer of information was stitched together from hundreds of 'tiles' (the Lucida 3D Scanner records 3D data in 48 cm x 48 cm sections) and photographs, creating three high-resolution composite images. After the recording, the three levels of information about the Cartoons were registered on top of each other to create an online viewer for each Cartoon: a 3D render (which is used as a base), a colour file and an infra-red file.
You can learn more about the process behind the high-resolution viewers here.
The 3D information of Paul Preaching at Athens was printed in 3D using the elevated printing technology by Canon Production Printing: the printer is able to build up relief in 5-micron layers to replicate the exact surface of a painting or low-relief surface. The blank textured surface is then moulded using liquid silicone and cast in a specially prepared acrylic gesso mix.
This thin, flexible 'skin', which is fixed to a canvas in a process that is similar to re-lining a painting, forms the base surface of the final facsimile. The Cartoon was sectioned in three parts to allow for easier transport and assembling inside the National Gallery. The colour of each section was printed on the surface separately in perfect registration, using Factum's custom flatbed inkjet printer. Multiple layers of over-printing ensure that the tone and hue of each colour is exact.
The printed skin was then applied to a CNC-milled polyurethane panel, imitating the undulations of the original object in addition to its subtle surface.
The three sections of the facsimile were assembled and installed at the National Gallery before final retouching on site.
Factum's custom flatbed inkjet printer printing the colour over the 'skin' © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
The Cartoon was split in three sections for easier handling and assembling in the exhibition spaces © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
A CNC-milled panel was used as base to simulate the ondulation of the original Cartoon, over which the printed, textured surface was glued © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
Amanda Blazquez and Rafa Rachewsky glueing and adjusting the printed colour over the CNC-milled panel © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
The three sections of the Cartoon during the retouching process of joining and masking the edges of the printed colour © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Foundation
The facsimile installed in the exhibition © The National Gallery