Last Supper imageA 16-billion-pixel image of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” has just gone online, giving us a look at the kinds of Web wonders we can expect to see, and for students to access, over the next few years.

The original painting, on the wall of Milan’s Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, is slowly peeling away and vanishing, and this Web site, provided by a company called Haltadefinizione, allows visitors to zoom in and get a view of the painting so close that it appears only inches away. The BBC reports that over 350,000 people view the painting each year, and now people who can’t get to Italy can see it, too. Only now that broadband has become near-universal are most personal, library, and school PCs able to handle these incredible downloads in a reasonable amount of time.

Unfortunately, the image is “watermarked” with an “H9” (you can see it in the picture) that slightly spoils the image, and points up what happens when a company claims intellectual property rights to a scan. We can only hope that children of the future won’t need to get too accustomed to seeing “watermarks” like these on all the images of great works of art they’ll experience online.

ADDENDUM: 10/29, 11:23 a.m. ET: Oops. Well, I just checked, and the picture seems to have gone offline. I hope it’s back up soon, because it’s really worthwhile to see this masterpiece in detail.

LATER: Hooray – the site’s back up.