Since the 1970s, Dr. Maurizio Seracini has been in search of Leonardo da Vinci’s fabled painting, Battle of Anghiari. His quest began upon seeing on the eastern wall of the Salone de’ Cinquecento the words Cerca Trova, meaning ‘seek and you shall find,’ written in Vasari’s Battle of Marciano. The words left him with the belief that the long-lost painting may be hidden behind the wall.
After a 30 year search, results of recent testing on the wall may support Seracini’s theory on the location of Leonardo’s painting.
Leonardo abandoned the painting he began in 1504, and it has been said that Vasari covered the Battle of Anghiari in 1563 when painting a larger mural. Many art historians have proposed that Leonardo’s painting was hidden by Vasari’s on the western wall, while Seracini believed it was on the east. From September to December 2011, scientific testing began using Seracini’s high-tech equipment. Endoscopic probes with tiny cameras were inserted through six small holes drilled in the Battle of Marciano in order to photograph images from behind the mural.
The results were presented on March 12, confirming the there is something behind the eastern wall, and that there is indeed a gap behind the Vasari painting. In addition, a chemical analysis revealed traces of similar materials and inks used in Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist.
The testing was conducted by experts from the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, with financial support from National Geographic, who has been documenting the quest. For more information, videos and photos, see www.nationalgeographic.com/anghiari.