Is there a Leonardo Da Vinci painting hiding behind a wall in Florence, Italy’s town hall? One of the art world’s great mysteries may soon be solved.
Italy’s culture minister, Francesco Rutelli, has given his approval to look at what lies behind an existing painting at the Palazzo Vecchio. After a meeting with the mayor of Florence, Rutelli said “We’ve decided to give the go-ahead to explore the Salone del
Cinquecento to look for the Battle of Anghiari.”
Researchers believe an unfinished mural by Leonardo Da Vinci titled the “Battle of Anghiari” may be hidden in the cavity of a wall concealed by another mural. Art researcher, Maurizio Seracini, first noticed the cryptic message “Cerca, Trova” which translates to “seek and you shall find” in one of the frescoes decorating a wall in the
Palazzo Vecchio almost 30 years ago.
Seracini conducted radar and x-ray scans in 2002 and 2003 that showed a hidden cavity the right size to hold Da Vinci’s work. It was thought that Da Vinci’s painting was destroyed when Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio was renovated in the mid-16th century.
Da Vinici was 53 years old in 1505 when he was working on the “Battle of Anghiari’ in Florence. Working next to Leonardo was Michelangelo who had been commissioned to decorate the opposite wall of the council hall. Michelangelo’s work was barely begun and never finished, but Leonardo did eventually paint at least part of his piece.
It is believed that Da Vinci was experimenting with new paints that proved to be unstable and degraded rapidly leaving the painting badly damaged.
Vasari, the artist whose painting is thought to cover the work by Da Vinci is known to have salvaged other works of art by leaving the works cocooned between walls when he made renovations.
It is estimated that the project will take about one and a half years to complete.
The Palazzo Vecchio is Florence, Italy’s town hall and is located next to the Uffizi gallery.