Specifically, ESA BIC Prague assisted with formulating the project’s strategy, put the firm in contact with business mentors and helped with marketing and promotion. The results soon became apparent. The start-up succeeded in establishing cooperation with a major global auction house and, in the case of one of the examined pictures, the scanner revealed a sketch of a woman that matches a nude by Vincent van Gogh. The work is now being prepared for further examination at the Van Gogh Foundation in the Netherlands, where its originator will finally be revealed. For the relatively low price of approximately CZK 40,000, specific data analysis can thus be a significant guide in determining the authenticity of an artwork having a much higher value.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE CLIENT
InsightART was established in Prague in 2014 as a subsidiary of ADVACAM, which is the supplier and developer of WidePIX digital imaging detectors. These detectors gained certification from NASA and emerged from the development of Medipix chips at CERN. At present, we can find them on, for example, the International Space Station, where they detect cosmic radiation.
The specially developed RToo scanner, which produces different coloured x-ray images among other things, helps to verify the authenticity of artworks. However, a unique feature of the device is the sensitivity and depth of analysis that it can perform without damaging the structure of the given work. On the entire surface of the image, the scanner is able to differentiate the material composition of a painting without the necessity of taking samples from it. The device can also function in a 3D version, which means that it can scan not only images, but also sculptures and carvings.
Comprising a team of scientists and art restorers, InsightART is the only company on the international art-authentication market that currently uses scanners with particle detectors.
- Finish development of the RToo digital scanner hardware in 2D and 3D versions
- Improve the software for advanced data analysis
- Formulate a functional business plan and business model
- Creation of a digital scanner for verifying the authenticity of artworks
- Unique, innovative particle-detector technology, previously unused in this field
- Supersensitive x-ray analysis of artworks, not only layers of the given painting, but also the pigments and materials used in the artwork
- Potential in the field of art authentication
- Global auction houses
- Global galleries
- Private art collectors
InsightART brought forth a globally unique and state-of-the-art spectral x-ray device in the area of inspection and authentication of artworks. The device provides information on the composition of pigments in paintings and thus offers detailed data on the scanned image. It assists in verifying the authenticity of artworks, while also providing a unique and highly detailed view below the top layer of paint, which aids restorers in doing precision work. InsightART’s mission is to assist and collaborate with art collectors, museums, galleries and auction houses around the world. It also helps with making safer investments in art and protection of valuable cultural heritage.
“We do not want to only develop the device, as it is also very important to us that, to the greatest possible extent, it helps the specialists who will use it. Therefore, we began this year to set up an advisory board composed of globally renowned specialists in the area of creative art. Some of the initial members are, for example, art historian and former advisor to the Vatican Monsignor Timothy Verdon and Professor Maurizio Seracini, a pioneer in the use of scientific imaging methods in art research,”
said Jan Sohar, development manager at InsightART.
- 2D and 3D versions of the scanner are on the market
- Establishment of communication with the Sotheby’s auction house
- Plan to install an RToo scanner in one of the significant laboratories in London
- Collaboration on authentication of a previously unknown work by Vincent van Gogh
ASSISTANCE FROM THE ESA BIC PRAGUE SPACE INCUBATOR
- linking with business mentors and specialists in the field
- formulation and implementation of the business plan
- assistance with presentations in London – connection with the embassy, cooperation with CzechInvest’s foreign office and ESA BIC, establishment of contacts
- formulation of the marketing strategy – media promotion, participation in events and trade fairs
About ESA BIC Prague
The ESA BIC Prague space incubator was established in May 2016 as part of the European Space Agency’s network of Business Incubation Centres. These centres provide facilities and support to innovative technology start-ups that are working with, developing and seeking commercial uses for space technologies. CzechInvest is the operator of ESA BIC Prague. The City of Prague, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Industry and Trade are also involved in the project. The incubator is located at Palác Adria in Prague. In March 2018, a branch of ESA BIC was established at the South Moravian Innovation Centre in Brno. More information is available at www.esa-bic.cz.
“We are very pleased with our cooperation with ESA BIC. It helped us not only in establishing contacts with institutions and specialists, but also in promotion of our project. We also highly value the professional and flexible approach of the representatives of ESA BIC Prague, which formed a significant part of our collaboration’s success.”
Jan Sohar, development manager and CEO of InsightART (middle)
LEFT: Josef Uher, expert on spectral x-ray imaging and CTO
RIGHT: Jiří Laukterkranc, art restorer and cofounder
In the case of one of the examined pictures, the scanner revealed a sketch of a woman that matches a nude by Vincent van Gogh. The work is now being prepared for further examination at the Van Gogh Foundation in the Netherlands, where its originator will finally be revealed.
Article by Katerina Kynclova, content manager at Czech Startups.