ArtViva recently hosted a very special guest speaker, Dr. Maurizio Seracini, art diagnostician and founder of Editech, Diagnostic Center for Cultural Heritage in Florence. Mr. Seracini, whose work applies techniques and processes adapted from science and technology to the analysis of precious art works, is well known for his ongoing research on Leonardo da Vinci’s The Battle of Anghiari, a lost masterpiece believed by Seracini and others to lie hidden underneath another painting in the Hall of the Five Hundred in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. On Thursday, April 6, he spoke at length about his involvement in the study of The Adoration of the Magi, a da Vinci work that just last month was returned to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence after a significant restoration.
During his talk, Seracini outlined the problematic state the painting was in when he first started working on its analysis 15 years ago. With great detail and intriguing visual aids, he explained the various types of organic decay that played a part in the painting’s deterioration, and the tools and methods used to remedy them. Beyond the scientific aspects of his work, however, Seracini’s analysis revealed some amazing discoveries regarding Leonardo’s original cartoon, a preparatory sketch (sometimes called the underdrawing) used by artists of the time to outline the composition of an artwork before applying paint.
Gasps of wonder and admiration filled the room when Seracini presented images of the original cartoons drawn by Leonardo, which according to Seracini’s extensive study—using diagnostic techniques such as infrared, thermographic, and ultrasound—were subsequently painted over by another hand when the work was left unfinished by da Vinci in 1481. The drawings, in true Leonardo style, contain detailed, extraordinarily expressive images of human activity, including a group of faces considered by many the most beautiful portraits ever done by the master.
Interested in seeing this mysterious artwork by Leonardo da Vinci? Join ArtViva’s Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery tour led by one of our expert guides, to admire and appreciate this and many other timeless works of Italian art. Or for a truly unforgettable experience, join our Private Tour with the da Vinci Art Sleuth himself, or an evening with Artists, Authors and Aristocrats, for a chance to hear Mr. Seracini speak about his study of Leonardo.