A partnership – Colnaghi & Factum

Colnaghi & Factum was formed in 2022 to celebrate the materiality of artworks, encouraging a new age of digital connoisseurship. Through the fusion of Colnaghi, the oldest art dealership in the world, and Factum Foundation, a driving force in the application of technology for cultural preservation, a partnership has been created in which art and science merge, making new insights possible and allowing connections to be made.

Colnaghi & Factum’s recording studio in London © Ferdinand Saumarez Smith | Colnaghi & Factum

The new studio in London’s St James’s focuses on high-resolution surface recording and composite colour photography. Colnaghi & Factum makes 3D scanning of the surface of paintings easy and accessible. The services are aimed at the custodians of paintings (museums, collectors, dealers, owners, and those fortunate enough to look after works of art), who wish to create a digital passport of their artworks. This approach has already resulted in a groundswell of interest and a significant change in attitude to both the value and the preservation of works of art.

The goal is to provide clients with a digital passport for their artwork, which acts as an objectively accurate condition report. The digital passport is a valuable asset which can be used by curators to monitor condition, researchers for study, conservation specialists carrying out restoration, private collectors to safeguard and value their collection, or to allow anyone around the world to see the original object in high-resolution using an array of display technologies.

The Colnaghi & Factum digital passport has been conceived as a single digital document that brings diverse types of information together, in the same place, at the same scale. Using Factum Foundation’s Lucida 3D Scanner, in conjunction with composite colour recording and photometric-stereo, the passport will enable diverse users to analyse specialist data on any computer, via free software.

Colnaghi & Factum reveals the surface, which can also be merged with colour and multi-spectral analysis (x-ray, infra-red, ultraviolet and other frequencies of light) to reveal what lies underneath. In addition to paintings, sculptures and relief panels can also be recorded.

Both private and public collections can digitally preserve and monitor their paintings through high-resolution scanning. This process demystifies technology and assists in detailed and objectively accurate condition monitoring, long-term preservation, recording loans and analysing the changes that occur when works of art are moved, facilitating a new approach to access.

Creating a facsimile of a bust of Emperor Didius Julianus in Factum Foundation’s studio © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation

Creating a facsimile of a bust of Emperor Didius Julianus in Factum Foundation’s studio © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation