See These Italian Masterpieces In London For Free. The Catch? They're Not Real

See These Italian Masterpieces In London For Free. The Catch? They're Not Real
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio Canestra di frutta (Bowl of Fruit) Conceived 1594 – 1598, digitised in 2021 DAW® (Digital Artwork). Courtesy of Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana (Milan) and Cinello

Artworks by Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Rafael and Modigliani go on show in London in February, free to view. There is one itty-bitty catch though — they're digital.

As Instagram, AR and NFTs render the art world skew-whiff, Unit London in Mayfair announces Eternalising Art History — a compact exhibition of digital artworks said to be almost indistinguishable from the originals.

Amedeo Modigliani Testa di Giovane Donna (Head of a Young Lady), Conceived in 1915 and digitised in 2021 DAW® (Digital Artwork). Courtesy of Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan) and Cinello

Each of the six artworks — including Francesco Hayez's Il Bacio and Leonardo da Vinci's La Scapiliata is created using cutting edge digital tech, then framed in an exact replica of the original frame, moulded and handcrafted in Tuscany.

While art lovers might jump at the chance to ogle these masterpieces — many of which have never visited the UK — it's ultimately up to you to decide if a digital reproduction can nourish and inspire the soul like the original, or if it feels somehow limp and lacklustre. Still, at least it saves shelling out for a flight to Florence or Milan. (Man, we want to go to Florence or Milan now.)

Francesco Hayez Il Bacio (The Kiss), Conceived in 1859, digitised in 2021 DAW® (Digital Artwork) Limited Edition 8 of 9 112 cm x 88 cm Courtesy of Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan) and Cinello

The 'paintings' have been reproduced in cahoots with the various Italian galleries that hold the originals, and they'll receive 50% of any artwork sold; nine editions of each are available to purchase as Blockchain-certified pieces — at prices ranging from £100,000-£500,000. That'd be a steal for the real thing, but for a reproduction? Not so sure.

Anyway the digital art revolution's here, and who are we to stand in the way.

Leonardo da Vinci La Scapiliata (Head of a Woman), Conceived in the first decade of the 16th century, digitised in 2021 DAW® (Digital Artwork). Courtesy of Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta di Parma

Eternalising Art History, Unit London, Mayfair, 15 February-19 March, free entry (although you'll need a few quid to purchase an artwork)

Last Updated 14 January 2022