How did they do that? Lighting The Last Supper

Couldn’t get a ticket to see The Last Supper in Milan? Don’t worry, Lux is bringing over designer Piergiovanni Ceregioli to LuxLive to explain how iGuzzini lit Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Renaissance artwork.

The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic mural of Jesus revealing to his disciples that there’s a traitor in their midst, is the hottest ticket in Milan. Visitors must buy tickets weeks in advance for a timed 15-minute slot and only 25 people at a time are allowed into the convent refectory where the painting is displayed.

Those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the 520-year-old painting will now see it like it's never been seen before as a brand new LED lighting scheme donated by iGuzzini has made The Last Supper's colours and contrasts more vivid. At the same time, it has slashed energy use and excess heat in the building, opening up the possibility that more people might get to see it.

The Last Supper’s new lighting replaces a scheme installed in 2000 at the culmination of a 21-year restoration project. That scheme used fluorescent lamps to light it from below and halogen AR111 fittings for ambient lighting.

The new lighting consists of seven iGuzzini Palco spotlights, which have been specially modified for The Last Supper. Barn doors on the luminaires direct the light on to the painting and keep it off the walls and ceiling, and Dali control gear dims the lights to exactly the levels needed.

The colour temperature has been warmed from 4200 to 3800K, and the colour rendering index is an impressive 95. The precise colour composition of the new scheme has been tuned to bring out the particular shades used in the painting, thanks to a custom-made chip-on-board LED light source. There was a particular focus on strong rendering of reds and skin tones, which have a habit of appearing washed out under poor quality LED lights.

‘We have a colour temperature of 3800K, but it looks close to 3200K because you can see the warm colours are so deep, so powerful,’ says Piergiovanni Ceregioli of iGuzzini, the designer behind the scheme. He describes the results of the relighting project as ‘really fantastic’.

Ambient lighting in the room comes from freestanding fittings using iGuzzini’s Cestello LED product, replacing the old energy-guzzling halogens.

Getting the lighting right is vital for any artwork, but particularly so for The Last Supper, because Da Vinci’s mastery of light is one of the things that makes the painting so special. iGuzzini's lighting design draws heavily on the lighting effects used by the Renaissance master in the painting.

To find out how they did it, don’t miss Piergiovanni Ceregioli’s presentation at LuxLive on Wednesday 18 November in Lux Theatre 1 at 14.00. Discover how the LED lighting installation has transformed the way people see The Last Supper - and how Da Vinci’s own feeling for light informed the design.

Register for your FREE ticket at luxlive.co.uk/register