FLORENCE, ITALY – The discovery of black paint similar to that used in the Mona Lisa has spurred fresh hope that Leonardo da Vinci’s fabled lost fresco The Battle of Anghiari may be hidden behind a wall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.
The fresco is believed to have been hidden by painter and art historian Giorgio Vasari when he was commissioned to do another fresco in Florence’s municipal headquarters. Art sleuth Seracini’s team began the latest quest for this Holy Grail of world culture in December.
“We also found red and beige, other colours typical of Leonardo,” said team leader Maurizio Seracini. ”We’re definitely looking behind the right wall,” said Florence cultural heritage superintendent Cristina Acidini.
Evidence claiming the fabled fresco was behind a secret wall in Palazzo Vecchio was first presented seven years ago. But experts weren’t sure about it, and officials initially balked at the idea of knocking through the later wall painting by Vasari in the Salone dei Cinquecento.
Florence authorities gave the green light to the drillers, who punched a hole in the Vasari. Seracini has been yearning to get close to the rumoured Anghiari fresco for the last 36 years and has written several books on it.
“We’re poised to put an end to a great search, we’re hoping the Battle of Anghiari is there,” said Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi. “I’m sure we’ll get the definitive word on the greatest mystery in the history of art,” he said.
The project went ahead after a scale model of the two walls was built at San Diego University, a major funder of the one-million-euro project along with three private foundations. Bits of the original fresco were recreated on the inner wall of the model, so that experts could simulate going in without damaging the real thing.