Leonardo’s holy grail

Leonardo’s holy grail

Wed 31 Oct 2007 1:00 AM

 Leonardo da Vinci’s fabled fresco may soon be discovered due to the collaborative efforts of Italian and American art experts. Evidence that the Battle of Anghiari is hidden behind a secret wall in Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone dei Cinquecento was presented two years ago and has intrigued art experts ever since. Italian officials have recently decided to start the search for the lost fresco with the help of American scholars and nuclear physics.


The one-million-euro project will take approximately one year to complete and involves a series of tests to be carried out first at the University of San Diego, one of three institutes funding the search. In an effort to leave undamaged the wall painting by Giorgio Vasari, under which the Battle of Anghiari is believed to be located, experts in America will create a scale model of the wall and recreate fragments of Leonardo’s lost fresco behind it. An array of documented material and smaller copies and sketches of the battle scene will be analyzed in order to retrieve as much information as possible about the ‘lost’ work.


In addition, scholars will use a variety of equipment. One of the most important tools is a state-of-the-art nuclear probe that will analyze the wall through ‘neutron activation’. Georadar technology invented at the University of Florence will also be used in the search.


Maurizio Seracini, who is responsible for tracing the location of the lost fresco, with the information provided by archivist, Rab Hatfield, is optimistic about the hunt: ‘Point by point, we will get a map that will enable us to see what’s behind Vasari’s fresco’.


Asked about the treasure hunt in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence mayor Leonardo Domenici said he believes there is something beneath the Vasari wall painting, though he is not sure what: ‘Now with everyone working together, we’ll find out what it is and what shape it’s in’.



Read more about it: The placement of Leonardo’s fresco is the subject a forthcoming book from The Florentine Press, ‘Finding Leonardo: the Case for Recovering The Battle of Anghiari’,  by Rab Hatfield, professor at Syracuse University in Florence .

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