London's National Gallery displays single Da Vinci painting in 'immersive' exhibition

London's National Gallery displays single Da Vinci painting in 'immersive' exhibition
By Daniel Bellamy

Legendary Italian painter, scientist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci died 500 years ago. Now the National Gallery in London is exhibiting one of his paintings in a novel way by recreating its original setting.

"The Virgin of the Rocks" was first displayed in a church in Milan that has since been destroyed.

Da Vinci spent around 25 years working on the painting and completed it in around 1508.

"The idea is to use immersive experience and to use digital technology to explore this great masterpiece," the gallery's director Gabriele Finaldi said.

"We take the public on a journey through the spaces that Leonardo was familiar with, through the landscapes he was familiar with. His interest in light and optics, the church for which he painted the picture that no longer exists, and the altar piece, we make an evocation of the original setting of the painting".

High-tech mapping and spectral imaging of the Virgin have revealed a different composition from the one Da Vinci began.

But he mysteriously abandoned it for the version that can be seen today.

"He makes two-dimensional form seem three-dimensional and alive, and he does that through his great studies of optics," the exhibition's curator Caroline Campbell said.

"He is someone who at the time he's working at this painting, is understanding that we see through different points, we see light in different ways."

Leonardo has long been considered by many the ultimate Renaissance genius.

His paintings include the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper" but he's thought to have only completed about twenty paintings.