One of the oldest art dealerships in the world, Colnaghi, wanted to create a different experience for the 2022 London Art week. Something that would attract younger generations of art lovers and offer their recurring visitors a unique, immersive experience.
This project sought to be an exploration of what a digital gallery can offer, what the metaverse can bring to the art conversation, and potentially help them expand new revenue streams.
Colnaghi is one of the few art dealerships to specialise in works of art from antiquity to the present day. Since the late-nineteenth century, Colnaghi has been a leading dealer in Old Master paintings and sculpture, prints and drawings, selling masterpieces to the greatest collectors and museums of the Gilded Age. With galleries today in London, New York, and Madrid, Colnaghi deals in rare objects from the Ancient World and the finest Old Master, Modern masterpieces, providing its clients with expert advice and opportunities to build collections.
Naturally, the next step for an art dealership that spans its activity across centuries was to fully embrace the latest technology of this century and use it to enrich the viewer–art relationship by adding another dimension to this dynamic: a virtual exploration of art that fuses audio, video, documentation, and x-ray scans with interactive user elements.
The first oeuvre d’art to benefit from this form of presentation was The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a painting with a remarkable history, painted by Orazio Gentileschi in the 17th Century.
The new presentation offered a deep technical analysis of the canvas. High-resolution x-rays were displayed within the virtual experience, which meant that viewers could perceive moments, known as pentimenti, where the artist changed his mind during the process of painting. For example, where he changed the position of the virgin’s hand, and where the location of the linen clasped by the Christ Child was moved.
Visitors were also able to explore details of the provenance and literature around this particular painting, including text detailing its critical history, and the movement of the canvas through some of the most prestigious English private collections into the ownership of J. Paul Getty.
Take a closer look at the gallery’s overview and interactive features:
To create such an experience Colnaghi partnered up with Endava based on our deep knowledge and solid extended reality and immersive media capabilities.
The virtual gallery was launched on July 3rd 2022 and was live on their website for approximately two weeks, a time in which the art dealership was able to track how much time the visitors spent and where the visits came from. They also generated a new stream of traffic to their website and collected e-mail addresses of the visitors. The project gained significant traction on social media as well.
Developed in under two months using an agile strategy and based on Unity 3D, pixel streaming, and 3D cloud rendering technologies, The Colnaghi Virtual Experience brought a deeper level of knowledge to the viewer’s attention.
Experiencing and exploring in such detail an old master’s painting, on your own terms is now possible with the help of the latest immersive media technologies. Similar projects are soon to follow, as collaboration for The Rest on the Flight into Egypt is considered a success for both parties involved.
“Exciting technologies such as virtual experiences and the metaverse are being explored extensively at the moment. We’re very pleased to be able to launch this project with Colnaghi to demonstrate the value of these advances in the art world. Being able to work with them to create a whole new understanding and way to experience Old Masters from anywhere around the globe is a fascinating opportunity.”
- Thomas Bedenk, VP of Extended Reality, Endava