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News: Attempt to Uncover Da Vinci Mystery

Peter Paul Rubens's copy of The Battle of Anghiari

Peter Paul Rubens's copy of The Battle of Anghiari

Leonardo da Vinci was an impatient genius who often went after projects with unbridled voracity only to abandon them when new ideas caught his attention. Or in the case of the fresco, Battle of Anghiari, when irritating difficulties presented themselves.
In 1504, Leonardo was commissioned to paint a fresco in the Hall of Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Having had bad experiences in the past with fresco painting, Leonardo attempted a new technique with the Battle of Anghiari in order to have the paint stick to the wall. Instead of the normal process for fresco painting (which involves plastering small sections of the wall and painting them while wet), Leonardo created a new mixture of plaster and possibly wax which he adhered to the entire wall prior to painting. Once his oil paints were applied though, they began to drip off and would not stick. Leonard attempted to dry the entire work before the paint could slip off but he was only successful on the lower portion. In a huff, Leonardo abandoned the work.

Regardless, what remained of his lost masterpiece stood in the hall until 1563 when the art historian and painter Vasari was asked to redesign the room. New walls and new murals were put up and covering the space where the Battle of Anghiari once stood is now Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana by Vasari himself. But maybe the Lost Leonard isn’t so lost at all. Professor Maurizio Seracini believes that Vasari would never have destroyed a work by Leonard and instead, built a wall in front of the work to place his mural, leaving a space behind it so as to leave Leonardo’s work untouched. If so, this would mean that a 500 year old mystery would finally be solved.
The professor has permissions from the city to attempt to find the mural and using thermal imaging, has already found a narrow space in the wall behind the existing painting. Another clue the professor has found, a small green banner held by soldiers at the top of the painting bears the words “Cerca, trova” – “Search, and you will find.” Of this the professor says, “There are six paintings decorating the walls of the hall and these are the only words to appear anywhere,” he said. “Why would you bother painting them, all the way up there where they are difficult to see, if they didn’t mean something?”
What is needed now is to employ a gamma ray machine and neutron beam projector to find the lost work, which will only cost 2.5 million dollars.
Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria, 4, 50122 Firenze, Italy

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