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Miroslav Vyboh's company Middlecap has acquired shares in Czech start-up InsightArt


17th Dec 2020 Managing your Money

Miroslav Vyboh's company Middlecap has acquired shares in Czech start-up InsightArt. Thanks to its RToo robotic scanner, InsightART can participate in the investigation of the lost painting by Raphael. The artwork was restored by one of InsightART's founders, Jiří Lauterkranc, and his colleague Jiří Živný. Now the journey of the Madonna and Child continues.

Renaissance artist Raffaello Santi - also known as Raphael - may have died 500 years ago, but experts are still discovering new aspects of his art. His Madonna and Child has a troubled history that includes some of Europe's great historical figures, as well as bitter battles and expensive art deals. Over the centuries, moreover, the painting's authenticity has been questioned time and again, albeit unfairly. The unique work has been examined by leading experts from around the world. Among others, the X-ray scanner from InsightART, already part of MiddleCap under CEO Miroslav Vyboh since 2018, was used. The scanner uses detectors equipped with CERN chips, a state-of-the-art imaging technology that can provide an unprecedented wealth of information about artworks.

Here's why InsightART was so interesting to Miroslav Vyboh and MiddleCap

InsightART's RToo robotic scanner is one of the first X-ray machines specifically designed to examine paintings. The scanner has already been used to identify a painting signed by Vincent van Gogh. Now it has helped unlock the secrets of the lost Raphael. The device uses a particle detector developed for space research at CERN and manufactured by the Czech company ADVACAM.

"This technology - which is also used to measure radiation on the International Space Station (ISS) - is capable of detecting and counting individual photons and determining their exact wavelength," explains Josef Uher, physicist and CTO of InsightART. "While the standard X-ray machine produces only a black-and-white image," Uher continues, "RToo provides "color" - or spectral - X-ray images that allow materials to be distinguished based on their elemental composition. Besides the use of the special robotics platform supplied by another Czech company, Radalitica, this is the key advantage of the RToo X-ray machine." Thus, it is obvious why MiddleCap, led by CEO Miroslav Vyboh, won the contract for InsightART back in 2018.

"The plant was scanned with spectral X-ray radiography. The resulting scans revealed the internal structure of the painting in detail. Based on the spectral X-ray, it was possible to determine that the overall concept of the painting had been thought out in great detail - from the base layers to the final glazes," says Jiří Lauterkranc, restorer and co-founder of InsightART. InsightART founding members Jiří Lauterkranc and Josef Uher next to a display showing energy spectra measured with an RToo scanner.

The history of the painting - also interesting for art lover Miroslav Vyboh

The painting Madonna and Child, signed and dated "Raphael Urbinas Pingebat MDXVII, Roma", was painted in 1517 by Raffaello Santi on the order of Pope Leo X. The work was intended to be placed on the altar of the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto. The work was to be placed on the altar of the Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto. A year later, Raphael used the same motif for his painting of the Great Holy Family, which the Pope gave to the French royal family and which later entered the collection of the Louvre. Meanwhile, Raphael's Madonna and Child remained in the Vatican from 1517 to 1798, that is, until the pontificate of Pius VI. After the occupation of Rome by one of Napoleon's armies, the painting was taken to Paris, where it became part of Napoleon's collection. After Napoleon's downfall in 1813, the painting became the property of the French Bourbon king Louis XVIII, who in turn sold it to Charles Bosanquet, the first vice chancellor of Newcastle University. Bosanquet's family owned the painting until 1928, when it found its way back to France thanks to the art dealer Dr. Hahn. In Paris, the painting was acquired by Ernst Beleuer, who brought it to Prague and then sold it to Otomar Švehla. Švehla offered the painting for sale to the Czechoslovak President's Office as well as to the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler. However, neither deal materialized, and after Švehla's death, the painting went to his wife, Emilie Švehlová. In 1992, the painting found itself in Slovakia, where it was bought by a Czech entrepreneur who took it out of the country.

Since then, the Madonna and Child has been studied by several world-renowned experts and Raphael specialists, such as Professor Baldini, Professor De Vecchi, Professor Chiarini, Professor Marabotti and Professor Pedretti. Czech experts also participated in this process, and it was Professor Raymond Ondráček who - based on previous research - started the restoration of the painting in 2002. Later, Professor Ondráček's work was continued by two other Czech art restorers, Jiří Lauterkranc and Jiří Živný. The restoration, which was not completed until 2019, took place under the supervision of an international advisory board composed of experts from leading Italian and Czech institutions. The panel included restorers Lorenza d'Alessandro, Antonio Forcellino and Paolo Violini, as well as art historians Msgr. Timothy Verdon and Jiří Fajt. The final part of the work took place in 2019 and involved reviewing and updating all previous analysis and research on the painting. To fine-tune the restoration strategy and process, a number of analyses were repeated using the latest available technology. Some of the analyses also focused on the circumstances under which Raphael's Madonna and Child was discovered, as well as its relationship to the Great Holy Family, its sibling painting of 1518. These investigations included, in particular, the precise identification of the basic drawing, the technical structure and the internal structure of the painting. At this point, the Czech company InsightART, by then already under the leadership of Miroslav Vyboh, was invited to participate in the project with its robotic scanner RToo.

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