World’s oldest art dealership enters Web3 with new virtual experience

Virtual experience from Colnaghi and Endava unlocks new audiences by giving fans access to the Old Masters. The Web3 technology now makes a deeper analysis of the canvas possible.

Colnaghi, the oldest art dealership in the world, founded in 1760, has announced the launch of The Colnaghi Virtual Experience, its cutting-edge digital collaboration with next-generation tech service provider Endava. 

The virtual art gallery enables existing clients and new users not familiar with Colnaghi to view Old Masters in a virtual space. It fuses audio, video, documentation, and x-ray scans with interactive user elements, demonstrating how Web3 technology can add to the viewer’s experience and enhance how we see, interpret and engage with works of art. 

Thomas Bedenk, VP Extended Reality, Endava commented: “The main purpose of this experience was to explore the possibilities of the metaverse for the art world and to spotlight an old Master like Gentileschi’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt in particular. Interest in this project is being tracked through traditional means of email sign-up and basic tracking like engagement time, website and catalogue click-through and of course social media engagement.

“Further down the line, projects like these could open up the possibility of real-time 3D tracking of user behaviour within such experiences. This could be done through tracking attention on certain interactions or calls to action to enable brands to gauge interest in particular aspects or sections within a given metaverse experience.”

Perceiving pentimenti is now possible 

The first project, which launched on on 3 July, focuses on Colnaghi’s presentation of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a painting with remarkable provenance, painted by Orazio Gentileschi in the 17th Century.

The new presentation makes a deep technical analysis of the canvas possible. Of particular interest are the high-resolution x-rays displayed within the virtual experience, which mean that viewers can perceive moments, known as pentimenti, where the artist changed his mind during the process of painting. 

Visitors can also explore details of the provenance and literature around this new Colnaghi painting, including text detailing its critical history, and the movement of the canvas through some of the most prestigious English private collections into the ownership of J. Paul Getty. 

Jorge Coll, CEO and owner of Colnaghi, said: "Colnaghi consistently works to uphold our historic firm’s commitment to connoisseurship, whilst making quality art accessible to both existing and new clients. The virtual experience we have launched with Endava moves this mission into a new dimension, enabling the next generation of art lovers to experience and become familiar with the Colnaghi brand, thanks to the incredible technological and UX capabilities offered by Endava." 

The Colnaghi Virtual Experience launched on 3 July 2022, with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt simultaneously on physical view at Colnaghi, 26 Bury Street, London.