It’s just another day in the trenches forMaurizio Seracini. At 55 years old, the Florence, Italy native and internationally recognized expert in high-technology art analysistechniques is finally one step closer to finding the lost Leonardo DaVinci fresco “Battle of Anghiari,” which Seracini is convinced lies behind murals painted by Giorgio Vasari in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.
Back in 2005, Using radar, x-rays and other devices, Seracini discovered a narrow cavity behind the Vasari fresco “Battle of Marciano,” and believes that the artist — an admirer of the great Da Vinci — intentionally had a wall built over the original mural with just enough space between the two in order to preserve the Da Vinci’s work and leave the “Battle of Anghiari” intact.
But shortly after the initial discovery, Seracini’s decades-long quest came to a standstill when authorities in Florence refused to renew his survey permit, claiming Seracini worked without permission and sought outside funding to finance his work.
Now — two years later — Italy’s Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli and officials in the Tuscan city announced they had given their go-ahead for renewed exploration in the palace (La Repubblica, 14 Jan).
Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari” was considered one of greatest — if not THE greatest work of art of the Renaissance period. According to an interview in the Italian daily La Corriere Del La Sera (www.lacorrieredellasera.it), Seracini said that “For over 50 years afterwards, documents spoke of the mural and the stunningly powerful horses painted by Leonardo.”
If Seracini and other researchers can continue their work and look to prove that the Vasari murals conceal a greater treasure. In fact, the technology may exist to remove the Vasari fresco and the wall behind, extract Leonardo’s mural, and finally put the Vasari back in its original place.
Seracini — who heads Editech (www.editech.it) — a Florence-based company he founded in 1977 — estimates that he’s worked on some 2,000 paintings, including 31 works by Raphael and three others by Da Vinci. Most of his equipment, he says, has been adapted from medical technology. Infrared, thermographic, ultraviolet and other kinds of scanners allow him to see images behind a painting’s visible layers.
According to www.aidanews.it , art historians have known that the “Battle of Anghiari” existed from early sketches left by Da Vinci in addition to copies made by contemporaries of Leonardo, as well as from the writings of those who saw it – one of whom described it as “miraculous.”
Seracini — a University of California graduate in the early 1970’s — started looking for this work, which has been missing for almost 500 years, just a few years after he graduated from college. According to www.statesman.com, Seracini and other researchers used ultrasound to look for Leonardo’s masterpiece in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. The team found some Da Vinci-Code-like clues, including an inscription on a fresco: “Cerca Trova,” meaning “seek and you shall find” on the wall where the masterpiece might have been. But Seracini didn’t have the money, tools or technology to solve that mystery at the time. The quest was revived 30 years later with funding from a private organization.
But the chase was on. According to www.ucsdnews.ucsd.edu, Seracini — because he had no blueprints of the Palazzo Vecchio dating back to the time when Leonardo was painting the “Battle of Anghiari” — used lasers to map out the building. He also used heat-sensitive photography to understand how the palace changed over time. That revealed windows and doors that were filled in and staircases that were torn down. Seracini then cross-referenced the information with documents describing the hall in Leonardo’s time and the supposed position of the master’s work. Finally, he was able to build a 3-D model of the hall, showing where the “Battle of Anghiari” would have been.
The year 2007 has been a good one so far for Leonardo da Vinci. First, scholars reported on discovering the burial site of the Mona Lisa and now work is resuming on the hopeful rediscovery of one of Da Vinci’s greatest works of art. Not bad for a guy who considered himself more of an inventor than an artist.