24 June, 2005

Lost da Vinci Work May Lie Behind Wall

The Battle of Anghiari
by LEONARDO da Vinci

Lost da Vinci Work May Lie Behind Wall
June 16, 2005— The long-lost "Battle of Anghiari," considered Leonardo da Vinci's best work, could lie hidden behind a wall in the council room of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, art experts announced at a conference. Maurizio Seracini, a world-renowned expert in art diagnostics whose investigations are referred to in Dan Brown's best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code," said he had found a suspicious cavity behind the council room's east wall. The wall now houses a mural by 15th-century painter, architect and writer Giorgio Vasari.

"We believe that the lost fresco is hidden there. Indeed, Vasari himself left an important clue. On a tiny green flag in his painting, he wrote: 'Cerca, trova' — seek and you shall find," Seracini said.


The Republic of Florence, which came into being in 1494, decided to create an assembly hall for their most important political committee, the "High Council", which was suited to the requirements and pretensions of the new republic. The majority of the construction work on the Sala del Gran Consiglio in the Florentine Palazzo Vecchio had been completed shortly before 1500. The pictorial program was to include two large wall paintings intended to express the self confidence of the new republic. It was planned that two important victories from recent Florentine history should be depicted: the Battle of Anghiari and the Battle of Cascina. The choice of artist had to measure up to the importance of the commission, and the decision was made in favour of two of the most highly esteemed Florentine artists of the age, Leonardo da Vinci and the young Michelangelo.

Neither of the two artists completed his works and we only know of their projects indirectly by their being mentioned in documents, or in the form of copies or sketches that have been associated with the project. More


We all have failures and this potentially magnificent work was one of Leonardo's.

An ambitious painting, Leonardo used a type of plaster which he read about in a book by Pliny, with the unfortunate result that the work he had barely begun was irreparably ruined. Problems started as soon as Leonardo placed his brush to the wall at 9 am. The weather turned bad, the sky opened and it rained then on until nightfall. The sudden humidity liquefied the paste holding the cartoon in position; as Leonardo lifted his hand to start work the cartoon slid to the floor and tore. More

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