Now that's how you capture a painting forever

Antonio Cosentino has one of the most distinct, interesting and arguably important jobs in the wide sphere of the arts. While he may also have a PhD in physics, he is principally a cultural heritage artist.
This is focused around the scientific documentation and examination of fine art using the latest in image-capture technology, providing current and future generations with the most detailed and accurate copies of important works of art.
It is a very scientific approach to how art can be preserved and analysed beyond the methods currently in deployment, suggesting that art and science have a fruitful relationship together and how their paths are not separate. As two bodies of knowledge, their ideas about the world may radically differ, but that’s not to say they can’t complement one another.
Mr Cosentino is therefore about building bridges, and moreover, making innovative documentation of works of art a reality for certain collectors and small to medium museums on a budget with a desire for such conservation.
To achieve this, he uses a state-of the art instrument that has been produced GigaPan Systems, a global technology company that specialises in hardware and software and whom delivers some of the most high resolution images in the world today. Such images are rendered in, as the name of the company reveals, gigapixels.
The specific apparatus Mr Cosentino uses in capturing fine art images is the GigaPan EPIC Pro for DSLR cameras. The software allows the modified camera to take hundreds and even thousands of images, which are subsequently stitched together into one panoramic photograph.
Now, what sets this process apart from what we can understand to be traditional photographic documentation – which is by all means very finely captured – is that it offers a substantially explorative framework from which to conduct investigations.
This takes the notion of the zoom to a new level of detail. Where most images become pixelated the deeper and deeper you go in, those captured using GigaPan EPIC Pro do not. It is unprecedented.
Additionally, multispectral photographs can be taken, meaning that experts, art appraisers, scholars, museums and collectors can literally strip away the surface paint and see behind their respective masterpieces for whatever reason, be it curiosity or to expand knowledge.
Mr Cosentino gives an example of the potential this has in a fascinating examination of Madonna in Glory with Four Angels, a painting from the early 1900s (the artist is unknown). One of the multispectral images rendered uses infrared reflectography, which shows that when it came to putting this work of art together, the painter was confident enough to simply use broad brushstrokes to lay the foundation for the final composition.
What can be inferred from this is that the author of the painting was probably very well-trained, since, in closer scrutiny of the underdrawing, there are no suggestions of pentimenti, which is where the artist makes an alteration (not visible to the naked eye in most cases).
As can be derived from this brief example, the possibilities are overwhelming. And it is, in the context of this technology in art documentation and examination, very early days. When various interested and informed parties begin getting to grips with what such technology can deliver – made better through their experience and knowledge of art – it will help expand the already wide reach of the device.
Mr Cosentino is already in popular demand, having already received commissions from the Bergen Museum of Art in Norway to capture 43 paintings from their Edvard Munch collection, as well as from Morgan Library in New York to help them in the their study of an unknown artist known as the Master of Claude de France.
Cadogan Tate, experts in fine art shipping, works with museums, galleries and artists to deliver secure art storage solutions.