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The Florentine Pieta: can visualization solve the 450-year-old mystery?

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Michelangelo carved his Florentine Pieta, the second of three Pieta statues, from a single block of marble while in his 70s. The piece includes posed figures of Christ in the arms of the Virgin Mary, Nicodemus (properly Joseph of Arimathea) looking on, and Christ touching Mary Magdelene. The statue was thought to be for the artist's tomb. Two years after he had stopped working on the unfinished piece, Michelangelo attacked the statue with a sledgehammer. Only the interruption of a servant prevented its complete destruction. The servant disposed of the statute. Subsequently, a second artist repaired some of the damage and completed some unfinished sections. What portions represent the original work, the restoration, and new work by the second artist? What parts were obscured by the subsequent sculptor, and which were reworked? Renowned art historian Jack Wasserman hopes to settle 400 years of debate and raise new issues-by bringing together contemporary scholars and technologies to literally view the work in a completely new way. In 1997, he enlisted researchers at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center to create a high-resolution virtual model of the sculpture. The team planned to use new technologies in 3D digital photography, database management, compression, and detail visualization to enable examination and analysis of the source work in ways not possible or permitted using the original sculpture

Published in:

Computer Graphics and Applications, IEEE  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 1 )