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A Closer Look at Lord Nelson, thanks to 3D Scanning

Lord Nelson has become no stranger to 3D scanning over recent years. That is to say, his trafalgar jacket has been digitised as part of an 3D scanning project to create an interactive guide for the Maritime Museum London in recent years, and his battleship, HMS Victory, was mapped in 3D in 90 billion measurements in a bid for its restoration in 2013.

Now though, things are getting personal, as a team of volunteers from scientists to curators, inspect wax portraits of Horatio Nelson and William Pitt’s heads at St Thomas’ Hospital, using 3D scanning technologies.

These portrait heads are typically first made shortly after the death of an individual, and they have been carefully looked after ever since, at Westminster Abbey. These two heads are part of a larger collection which were modelled from life and originally used to mark graves, or sit on the coffins during significant funerals. Despite being designed to be displayed in plain sight, immediately, the scans of these waxworks unveiled secrets about their creation previously unknown until now.

For example, the eyes are not the solid glass they were thought to be, but intricately blown, hollowed baubles. Revelations such as these are only the beginning for the researchers working on this project in coming months, as they work their way through the thousands of images captured by the scanners.

Valerie Kaufmann, a senior conservator at Plowden & Smith, told Icon publication that “the images that conservators will have access to thanks to the scans will greatly widen the amount of information available to them” … “it is hoped that we can gain more insights into the methods used by known wax modellers”.

Furthermore, the collation of CAD models and scans as a result of this 3D scanning project will create a digital museum where their current condition can be preserved in digital form indefinitely, should researchers in the future want to access them.


Original story and imagery from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/03/off-with-his-head-3d-scans-reveal-lord-horatio-nelson-william-pitt-secrets


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