Around the World in 80 Models: Madrid

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we visit La Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, where Sketchfab Master Néstor F. Marqués shows us a painting by Juan de Miranda.

Madrid, Spain: Cuadro de Juan de Miranda

Hi everyone, my name is Néstor F. Marqués and I develop my research in a department called Laboratorio de Humanidades Digitales (Digital Humanities Lab) at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Spain where we try to apply all kinds of technology to humanities, specially to Cultural Heritage. At the moment we are successfully creating 3D objects for documentation, study and visualization purposes for museums in such as the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and of course our own collections at the Royal Academy.

Today I want to tell you about an unusual 3D model of an unusual object in our collection at the Royal Academy. As you can see, at first sight it’s just a painting depicting ”San Fernando receiving the embassy of the king of Baeza” by artist Juan de Miranda. It was painted in the year 1760 as part of that year’s painting competition celebrated at the Royal Academy. Sadly it was not awarded, but it was kept in storage until the present times. You can see the winner painting by Andrés Ginés de Aguirre in the image below (fig. 1)

Fig. 1 Andrés Ginés de Aguirre San Fernando receiving the embassy of the king of Baeza 1760 inv. 226 - Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

Fig. 1 Andrés Ginés de Aguirre San Fernando receiving the embassy of the king of Baeza 1760 inv. 226 – Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

But what’s interesting about this painting is not necessarily the front of it, but the back, where Miranda, the painter, signed it with another painting, the only self-portrait we have of him. This is a curious and very unusual way of signing a painting and a great example which shows us that sometimes you have to look at the back of the objects to get a new perspective.

That’s exactly why we decided to 3D scan it (fig. 2), so anyone could see the self-portrait from behind without moving the painting. This is a concept that we museums and cultural institutions should develop and promote. Maybe we cannot move an object to see some details, maybe we cannot have it in the exhibition rooms, but if we have it in 3D, we’ll be able to show it to everyone, from every angle and with all detail.

Fig. 2 3D scanning Juan de Miranda’s painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Spain.

Fig. 2 3D scanning Juan de Miranda’s painting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Spain.

There are more examples of this concept at our museum, such as very big plaster cast of a roman sculpture made for Velázquez in the Vatican in the 17th Century. With the 3D model you can see the Ariadna from behind and discover how a plaster cast structure looks from inside.

In the end, with just one 3D model we got a high definition image of the painting (front and back) for documentation, the possibility for the researchers to study it in 3D as a case of rare signature and for the visitors to be able to see the back of the painting without moving it. Who said versatility?

To see more of La Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando’s models here on Sketchfab, check out their profile!

About the author

Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.


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