Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” Goes Online and High-Tech


Getting tickets to see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last Supper,” in Milan can be tough – the timed Last Supper tickets are sold well in advance, groups are strictly limited in size and you’re only allowed 15 minutes in the room where the painting is. However, a new extremely high-resolution image of the painting has gone online recently, which means that even if you miss the in-person experience you can still enjoy the master’s work – and you aren’t limited to 15 minutes with it, either.

The image of “The Last Supper” is at 16 billion pixels, reportedly the world’s highest-resolution photograph, and it’s now available online. This is partly an effort to relieve the incredible demand to see the piece in person, and also a way to study da Vinci’s work in a more detailed way. For instance, as a result of having this incredibly high-definition image to study, art experts are now able to see that da Vinci used real gold in the painting, something he himself warning against.

There are other features of the piece which are only visible on the online image, because the original can only be viewed under specific (and not very bright) light. Some of these include “the church bell tower and shrubs outside the windows, the patterns and wrinkles in the tablecloth, the reflection of an orange wedge in a pewter plate in front of Matthew” and more. It’s truly a gold mine for art enthusiasts and art historians alike, and a great day for anyone who’s unable to get tickets to see the real thing in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

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(And after playing with the image myself for awhile, I can tell you it’s incredibly cool – even at only 8%, you can see exquisite detail – and even that orange wedge. At nearly 100%, I swear you can occasionally see brush strokes. Spectacular stuff.)

You can find the high-resolution image online at HAL9000’s website, and read more about the project here and here. And if you’re headed to Milan and still want to see the real thing, read up on how to get your “Last Supper” tickets.

Photo by: MIRELLA PARDI