The Battle of Anghiari, the lost Leonardo da Vinci

The hectic search of Leonardo’s lost masterwork  “The Battle of Anghiari”  has been  going on for many years.

The site  is the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio,  Florence. The story started  in 1563 when  Vasari,  commissioned  to renovate the hall  with a large fresco,  featuring the Battle of Marciano,  might  have preserved the work of  Leonardo,  hiding it under a juxtaposed new wall .  On top of  Vasari’s battle,  12 meters above the ground,  a soldier waves a green flag with the following written  words ” Chi cerca trova” (“He who seeks, finds”).

Could  these obscure words be  hinting   at Leonardo’s fresco ?

An intriguing suggestion.

Leonardo was commissioned  the Battle of Anghiari by the gonfaloniere  Pier Soderini to proudly celebrate the victory of the Florentine troops against Milan in 1440. The work,   dating back to 1503,  was never completed,  Leonardo abandoned the project  because of technical difficulties.
Many preparatory studies of  Leonardo’s work  still exist. The size of the Battle of Anghiari was impressive. Meant to deal with the various moments of the battle, Leonardo focused mostly on the scene representing colliding horses and cavaliers.  Its central section about four cavaliers, fighting for a standard,  is best known through a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens , at  the Louvre, Paris, known as The Battle of the Standard,  based  on an engraving of 1553 by Lorenzo Zacchia.  Rubens succeeded in portraying the detailed dramatic movements,  presumably present in Leonardo’s  original painting.

Maurizio Seracini,  professor at San Diego University, California,   has,  at present, been following his dream for many years,  chasing after  the Renaissance masterwork,  hidden,  according to him,  behind  Vasari’s  fresco. The professor,  a highly technological engineer,  in the survey of the area,  has implemented  non-invasive techniques,  such as a high-frequency, surface-penetrating radar and a thermographic camera.

He found a gap  between the two walls, large enough for the older fresco to be preserved. Through an endoscopic camera probe the team discovered fragments of pigment on the plaster of the inner wall, an  evidence of Leonardo’s  fresco wall,  being their chemical composition similar to black pigment of Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist in the Louvre, Paris, as from  recently published scientific papers by the French museum.  Recently,  on March the 12th, 2012  Seracini publicly announced the evidences,  however still controversial.

The challenge is still going on.

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