Following the application of RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) photography on three paintings by the famous Cretan artist Domenikos Theotocopoulos, internationally known as El Greco, in Nicosia (January 2013). Nikolas Bakirtzis and Ropertos Georgiou of The Cyprus Institute’s Science and Technology in Archaeology and Research Center, were invited to present the results in Athens. The Benaki Museum, holder of one of the paintings, the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ (dated 1565-67), recently organized a special workshop featuring the work of CyI’s Imaging Center for Archaelogy and Cultural Heritage (ICACH) with the participation of Museum curators, photographers, conservators and art historians.
Workshop participants recognized the critical value of ICACH’s work in the visual analysis of El Greco’s art and urged the preparation of a systematic project for the documentation of all early El Greco paintings, specifically his work before his 1577 arrival in Spain. RTI images offered an invaluable detailed analysis of the surface of El Greco’s art works. Participants were able to appreciate the brushstroke technique of the artist, his use of colour pigments, the layering of later interventions, deteriorations on the paintings’ surface and other details. This advanced photographic technology can provide an interactive experience to the user, as he or she can control the direction of the lighting angle to virtually illuminate in high analysis every detail in relief on the surface of the photographed object. Certainly, the further study of these results will contribute to new knowledge on the work of the seminal artist. CyI researchers were invited to make immediate plans to photograph all El Greco’s works in Greece (Athens and Crete) and prepare a digital corpus of RTI images that will be included in the events for 2014, which has been designated as international ‘El Greco Year’.
A special presentation (March 28) was also organized at the 2nd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities/ Greek Ministry of Culture with the participation of archaeologists and a representative of the Syros Bishopric, holder of El Greco’s icon of the Dormition of the Virgin (dated 1565-66). A formal presentation in Syros is planned for Fall 2013.
RTI documentation of El Greco's Dormition of the Virgin (ca 1565-66)