Building a Digital Model of Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà


Abstract  We describe a project to create a three-dimensional digital model of Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà. The model is being used in a comprehensive art-historical study of this sculpture that includes a consideration of historical records and artistic significance as well as scientific data. A combined multi-view and photometric system is used to capture hundreds of small meshes on the surface, each with a detailed normals and reflectance map aligned to the mesh. The overlapping meshes are registered and merged into a single triangle mesh. A set of reflectance and normals maps covering the statue are computed from the best data available from multiple color measurements. In this paper, we present the methodology we used to acquire the data and construct a computer model of the large statue with enough detail and accuracy to make it useful in scientific studies. We also describe some preliminary studies being made by an art historian using the model.