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Was Caravaggio the World’s First Photographer?

That’s what an art preservationist is arguing, based on trace materials found in the Baroque master’s canvases. It’s been argued that Renaissance painters relied on early pinhole cameras—so called cameras obscura—to project images of their subjects onto canvas, which they would then trace.

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That’s what an art preservationist is arguing, based on trace materials found in the Baroque master’s canvases. It’s been argued that Renaissance painters relied on early pinhole cameras—so called cameras obscura—to project images of their subjects onto canvas, which they would then trace. But Roberta Lapucci, conservation chief at Florence’s SACI institute, says that Caravaggio went one better, by using light sensitive materials to “burn” a short-lived image onto canvas. The image would fade after thirty minutes—just long enough for Caravaggio to trace the proportions and outlines.

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So we’re wondering: Does that make Caravaggio—who was famous for his perfectly composed, lifelike depictions—a lesser artist but a greater inventor?

[Via The Guardian]

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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