An extraordinary three-volume set on the Sistine Chapel is available this month, published by Callaway Arts & Entertainment on November 1st, the result of a five-year collaboration between Callaway, the Vatican Museums, and the Italian art publisher Scripta Maneant of Bologna, Italy.
Employing ultra-high-resolution digital photography of every centimeter of the Sistine Chapel, along with the finest Italian bookmaking craftsmanship, this giant, 24×17 inch, 822-page magnum opus features state-of-the-art color accuracy and printing fidelity, color-matched against the actual frescoes, to produce a 1:1 life-scale rendering of masterworks by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Perugino, and other Renaissance artists as the world has never seen them.
This monumental project dovetails with the ongoing conservation program of the Vatican Museums, who have never authorized a publication of this kind. It creates a state-of-the-art permanent archive through the most advanced digital technology. The worldwide publication is limited to 1,999 copies, with only 600 sets available in the English language for the world. The work will never be reprinted. A portion of proceeds from sales will be given to the Vatican Museums.
The publication of The Sistine Chapel trilogy is a pioneering technological breakthrough.
To create the ultimate book of these masterpieces, a team of photographers made more than 270,000 digital images over the course of 67 consecutive nights, while the Sistine Chapel was closed to the public. Using a 33-foot-tall scaffold and rig to capture every inch of the chapel in gigapixel digital photography, the team utilized imaging software to stitch together seamlessly all 270,000 individual frames. The Sistine Chapel can be experienced through the pages with a precision, color, detail, and proximity not possible to see in person.
The result is the first opportunity in history for viewers to appreciate the frescoes as Michelangelo and the other artists painted them, with images so clear, sharp, and immersive that the viewers feel as if they are side by side with the artist. We can observe in extreme close-up the artists’ precise colors and textures down to individual brush strokes.
The words of Antonio Paolucci, former Director of the Vatican Museums, guide the reader on the journey through the Sistine Chapel: the iconography and stories behind the masterpieces; heretofore unseen details; the subtly nuanced palette; the energy of brushstrokes applied in the race against time that is inherent in the fresco painting technique; and the mesmerizing expression in the eyes and gestures of the figures portrayed. Readers are left with an indelible experience of overwhelming grandeur.
Robert Simon, Art Historian and Art Dealer, who discovered Leonardo da Vinci’s lost masterpiece Salvator Mundi in 2005 and first exhibited it in 2011, commented:
Now more than ever, when travel is limited and the immense amount of digital imagery fatigues the eye, these magnificent volumes can serve as a tonic for the soul. Whether seen as a triumph of photography, a monument of scholarship, or a luxurious asset, this is a work to covet and, for the fortunate, to own.
The three volume book weighs a whopping 75 lbs. and is priced at $22,000 inclusive of shipping and handling, making it out of the reach for the average consumer but a unique collectors’ item for universities, art schools, museums, seminaries and specialists in the field. It is available from Callaway.com and through Ingram Publisher services.