The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) spin-off Universum Digitalis has carried out digital image processing of the Madonna of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck for the Louvre in Paris. It documented the restoration of the masterpiece in unprecedented detail, giving a unique pixel-level comparison of the painting both before and after its restoration.

In November 2021, the Louvre launched a large-scale conservation and restoration project for the Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, one of Van Eyck’s best-known works. The project was completed in December 2023. Using advanced imaging technology, Universum Digitalis played an important role in documenting the restoration processes.

Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage documented both the front and back of the painting after the restoration, using hundreds of macro photographs.

β€œUniversum Digitalis assembled the images,” says Prof Dr Frederik Temmermans of VUB, co-founder of Universum Digitalis. β€œThe images were analysed and merged using advanced algorithms to produce gigapixel images of the work. This enabled a unique comparison of the work before and after restoration at the pixel level.”

β€œThis collaboration is a crucial step in preserving and documenting our cultural heritage,” says Prof Temmermans. β€œIt’s important that we continue to make use of advanced technologies to protect historic works of art and make them accessible to the public.”

The restored work is on display at the Louvre until 17 June, as part of the exhibition Revoir Van Eyck - La Vierge du chancelier Rolin.