| Maurizio Seracini
is a diagnostician of Italian art. A '73 UCSD Alumus, graduated in
bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), he
founded, in 1977, the first company in Italy for diagnostic and
non-destructive analyses on art and architecture, the Editech srl,
Diagnostic Center for Cultural Heritage in Florence. Adapting
technologies from the medical and military fields and other technical
measuring instruments he has made possible diagnostics of art and
search for art without destroying the artwork itself. Seracini has been
well known for his search for the Leonardo da Vinci mural, The Battle
of Anghiari in the Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
and for his diagnostic survey on Da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi.
For centuries, the whereabouts of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterwork, a painting of the Battle of Anghiari, has been one of the art world’s greatest mysteries. This painting, said to be the ‘school of the world,’ has sparked debate among contemporary artists, who suggest that it was the greatest of all the Renaissance masterpieces. After a 30-year quest, art diagnostician Maurizio Seracini thinks he has found the answer to the missing Da Vinci artwork mystery. If this is true, he will have cracked the real Da Vinci code and the Palazzo Vecchio could very well become one of the most important museums in the world. In fact, Dr. Seracini is the only real person mentioned in Dan Brown’s novel. Thanks to his investigative skills and expertise, Seracini has used state of the art technology to show that Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi has been painted over by another artist and can no longer be considered a true Da Vinci..
Mystery of Leonardo's lost work 'almost solved'
By Malcolm Moore 05/03/2008
The mystery surrounding Leonardo Da Vinci's lost masterpiece, the Battle of Anghiari, is on the verge of being solved, according to an art historian leading the search. Professor Maurizio Seracini said he will use a revolutionary new technology to discover whether the fresco, which has not been seen since 1563, lies behind a wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. "This is an incredibly important moment," he said on Tuesday.
Prof. Seracini, who is mentioned in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, has been searching for the Battle of Anghiari for over 30 years. He believes it was deliberately hidden by Giorgio Vasari, the artist and art historian, in order to preserve it. The Battle of Anghiari was commissioned in 1503 after Piero de Medici was deposed as ruler of Florence and the city was briefly proclaimed a republic.
According to Vasari, there was a "public decree" that Leonardo should paint something to mark the republic and was granted a space in the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio. The fresco, which is three times the size of Leonardo's Last Supper wall painting in Milan, was described by Benvenuto Cellini, the sculptor, as a "ground-breaking masterpiece". Several preparatory sketches and copies of it still exist. However, the Medicis returned to power in the 1560s and Vasari was told to renovate the hall and to cover up Leonardo' work. He painted a new fresco in its place, the Battle of Marciano.
"I am sure that Vasari could not bring himself to destroy Da Vinci's finest work" said Prof. Seracini. Instead, he said, Vasari built a new wall in front of the fresco, leaving a gap of between one and three centimetres to preserve it. Prof. Seracini said Vasari had left a small clue at the very top of his new work, a flag bearing the inscription: "He who seeks shall find".
The flag is invisible from floor level. Until now, it has been impossible to "see" behind the second wall.
However, Prof. Seracini said he would use "neutron analysis" to detect certain colours, since the paints used by Vasari and Leonardo differed. Leonardo used mineral-based paints, while Vasari painted with oils. The neutrons will be fired through the wall and the rays that bounce back should reveal if there is any paint on the back wall.
Prof. Seracini's specially-designed machine cost £450,000 and the £750,000 total cost of the project has been funded by Loel Guinness, a scion of the brewing family. The work will begin in October and be finished by January. "Leonardo kept a lot of lists. We have the chemical compositions of the paints. We are looking for an intense blue, made with lapis lazuli, in particular," said Prof. Seracini. Prof. Seracini's most famous discoveries include the hand of another artist in Da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi.
Da Vinci's Last Supper: New conspiracy theory
Polymath: ‘A Renaissance Man’
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