The Lost Da Vinci: clues, controversy and now conclusion?

Detail from The Battle of Anghiari (1503-05) done with black chalk, pen and ink, watercolour on paper, now in the Louvre, Paris

Art historians, art lovers, history buffs and Da Vinci fans around the world are anxiously awaiting the results of art sleuth Maurizio Seracini’s controversial investigation in finding a Leonardo da Vinci work which was started in 1505 and lost soon thereafter.

Seracini’s near on 40-year search for the lost Da Vinci masterpiece, ‘The Battle of Anghiari’, may well be drawing to a conclusion… or not.

Seracini believes the great lost painting by Da Vinci has been hidden behind the 16th Century fresco, ‘The Battle of Marciano in the Chiana Valley’ by Giorgio Vasari, in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.

Vasari’s work is on a wall inside the famous Salone dei Cinquecento. It has been discovered that the wall is a false one, with the original wall behind. By drilling tiny holes into an area of the Vasari painting that has was already damaged, Seracini is hoping to discover the long-lost Da Vinci fresco on this original wall.

'The Battle of Marciano in the Chiana Valley' by Vasari

This is a search that involves more conspiracy theories, clue-following and drama than a Dan Brown novel – and aptly so being that Seracini is the only real-life living person given mention in ‘The Da Vinci Code’!

An expert in spotting fakes and uncovering hidden masterpieces, Seracini has already discovered one lost Da Vinci work.

National Geographic is fully behind the current $250,000 project, and Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi has also given his full support. The world’s leading Leonardo Da Vinci expert, Carlo Pedretti, is also one of the faithful, claiming that logic and historic documents allow for no other plausible location of the lost Leonardo Da Vinci fresco.

Naysayers however dismiss Seracini’s theories as to the whereabouts of the work, citing Vasari’s known ability to remove pre-existing frescoes without damaging them, leaving no reason for him to cover up the work of an artist he is known to have so greatly respected. What’s more, the unfaithful say the Da Vinci work may never have existed in the first place. Yet others believe the conclusions Seracini has drawn in his research are erroneous, with some believing the lost masterpiece may be hidden on another nearby wall, or may have even been destroyed.

But Seracini is heartened by ‘clues’ such as a figure in Vasari’s work holding a sign that says, ‘Cerca Trova’ – ‘He who seeks finds’. The false wall behind Vasari’s work is believed to have been erected to protect the Da Vinci masterpiece that Vasari was wont to destroy.

'He who seeks finds' ... or at least finds out!

Maurizio Seracini is a diagnostician of Italian art. Adapting technologies from the medical and military fields and other technical measuring instruments, he has made possible diagnostics of art and searching for hidden masterpieces that do not involve destroying the artwork itself.

So enthused about the search, Mayor of Florence Renzi apparently said upon his departure from the Palazzo late one evening, “If you find something, call me and I’ll come back here in my pyjamas.”

Renzi says, ‘The techniques that are being used are in accordance with all the rules of the game but also bearing in mind the quality of Vasari’s work. This is an opportunity to see what is behind the Vasari and it is an important part of our history.

‘We’re poised to put an end to a great search, we’re hoping the Battle of Anghiari is there. Over the next two or three months we’ll have the definitive word on the greatest mystery in the history of art.’

As to whether the ‘Lost Da Vinci’ will soon be undergoing a name change or not, hopefully we’ll be finding out soon.

Artviva offers a 2-hour an exclusive Da Vinci Code Art Sleuth tour with Seracini where you learn can how to spot a forgery, receive hints on building your own private art collection and continue on the search for lost masterpieces in the company of this expert.

You can also experience another of Vasari’s great works for yourself, on our skip-the-line guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery with our expert guide, followed by an exclusive-entry guided tour of the Vasari Corridor.

Vasari’s Corridor (‘Corridoio Vasariano’) was built to run from the Town Hall of Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signora, across the top of the Uffizi Gallery (which was then a collection of ‘uffizi’ -offices- before it was turned into a gallery by the generous donation of the Medici art collection by the last surviving Medici family member). Running then over the Ponte Vecchio, the Vasari Corridor concludes in Piazza Pitti – once home to the Medici family.

The Vasari Corridor thus permitted the Medici and other important figures to cross the city from the Town Hall to their home without having to be held up by the adoring masses (in good times) or the rotten-fruit-throwing critics (in not such good times).

Vasari was not only one of Florence’s great architects and fresco painters, he was also a top-notch gossip! In his ‘Lives of Illustrious Artists’, published in 1550, Vasari claimed that Raffaello was sublime but Michelangelo carries the palm of victory of all artists. Vasari also refers to Andrea Del Sarto as an artist who makes no mistakes, although describes Del Sarto’s wife, Lucrezia del Fede, as “faithless, jealous, and vixenish with the apprentices.”

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Comprising the skip-the-line Uffizi Gallery tour with expert guide, our The Masterpieces of The Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour, and our skip-the-line Accademia visit –The Original David Tour.You also have our acclaimed Original Florence Walk small-group guided walking tour in Florence’s historic city centre.

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This discounted Rome tour package includes a 3.5 hour small-group walking tour of Rome and a tour offering skip-the-line Vatican entry and expertly guided tour of the Vatican.

If you would like to have a private guide accompanying you, we have private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to RomeVenice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.

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