After the results of the survey made by National Geographic in collaboration with Opificio delle Pietre Dure, the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, shall find an agreement with the Minister of Culture, Lorenzo Ornaghi for the pursuit of research.
The Battle of Anghiari (1505) is a lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci at times referred to as “The Lost Leonardo”, which some commentators believe to be still hidden beneath one of the later frescoes in the Salone dei Cinquecento. In 1504 Leonardo da Vinci was given the commission by gonfaloniere Piero Soderini, a contract signed by Niccolò Machiavelli, to decorate the Salone dei Cinquecento. At the same time his rival Michelangelo, was designated the opposite wall. This was the only time that Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo worked together on the same project. The painting of Michelangelo depicted an episode from the Battle of Cascina. Leonardo da Vinci drew a scene of a violent clash of horses and a furious battle of men fighting for the flag in the Battle of Anghiari.
This painting was to be his largest and most substantial work. Since he had a bad experience with fresco painting, he wanted to apply oil colours on the wall. He began also to experiment with such a thick undercoat, that after he applied the colours, the paint began to drip. Trying to dry the painting in a hurry and save whatever he could, he hung large charcoal braziers close to the painting. Only the lower part could be saved in an intact state. But the upper part couldn’t dry fast enough and the colours intermingled. Leonardo then abandoned the project. In the mid-16th century (1555–1572), the hall was enlarged and restructured by Vasari and his helpers, so that Grand Duke Cosimo I.
Maurizio Seracini, an Italian expert in high-technology art analysis, believes that behind one of these murals by Vasari, the “Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana” (1563), is hiding the original fresco of Leonardo da Vinci. On top of Vasari’s fresco, 12 meters above the ground, a Florentine soldier waves a green flag with the words “Cerca trova” (“He who seeks, finds”). These enigmatic words seem to be a hint by Vasari, who always spoke highly of Leonardo’s fresco.
Seracini believes it is unlikely that Vasari would have destroyed the work of his predecessor during his renovation of the Salone dei Cinquecenti. Using non-invasive techniques, such as a high-frequency, surface-penetrating radar and thermographic camera, Seracini made a survey of the hall. Among other conclusions, he found out that Vasari had built another wall in front of the east wall where the original fresco of Leonardo da Vinci was reported to be located. He found a gap of 1 to 3 centimeters between the two walls, large enough for the older fresco to be preserved.
Since early 2007, the city council of Florence and the Italian Minister of Culture have given the green light for further investigation. In December 2011 Seracini and his associates drilled small holes through areas of the fresco believed to have been previously damaged and restored, hence no longer comprising “original paint” from Vasari’s work. An endoscopic probe with a camera was extended into the cavity behind the curtain wall, and the team discovered fragments of pigment and indications of fresco surfacing on the plaster of the inner wall; samples were taken at the time, with the results being announced publicly on 12 March 2012. Seracini believes that this is conclusive evidence for the continued existence of da Vinci’s fresco. Seracini’s research is highly controversial with strong criticism being levelled against him for drilling the holes. In March 2012 researchers said “the material found behind the Vasari wall shows a chemical composition similar to black pigment found in brown glazes on Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist, identified in a recently published scientific paper by the Louvre, which analyzed all the da Vinci paintings in its collection.
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