«Leonardo Da Vinci never painted the Battle of Anghiari»

The Battle of Anghiari? Perhaps Leonardo Da Vinci did not even get to paint it in the Salon of the Five Hundreds of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. And the wall on which he had prepared the stucco based on oil and lime for the painting was most likely demolished soon after. The documents only testify that between 1503 and 1506 Leonardo was supplied with materials intended for a preparatory cardboard and wall plasters, not with the colors to paint a wall.

To these conclusions came a pool of experts who presented the results of a research lasting almost six years in a volume of 610 pages titled «The Great Hall of Palazzo Vecchio and the Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo Da Vinci. From the architectural configuration to the decorative apparatus», published by the Florentine Publishing House Olschki in the «Biblioteca Leonardiana. Studies and documents» series, edited by Roberta Barsanti, Gianluca Belli, Emanuela Ferretti and Cecilia Frosinini. The research culminated in the book were presented and discussed this morning in the Vasari Auditorium of the of the Uffizi Gallery, in the presence of the museum’s director, Eike Schmidt, Cinzia Maria Sicca Bursill-Hall, tenure professor of history of modern art at the University of Pisa, Francesca Fiorani, teacher of history of modern art at the University of Virginia, and Marcello Simonetta, historian and researcher of The Medici Archives Project.

The cross-disciplinary study coordinated by the Department of Architecture of the University of Florence -— with the help of Emanuela Ferretti, professor of history of architecture -— was helped by the collaboration of the Kunsthistorisches Institut of the Max-Planck-Institut, and the Leonardian Library of Vinci: for the first time the project of the work of Leonardo was connected to the architectural history of the Salon of the Five Hundreds. For more than fifty years it has been debated whether under the frescoes of Giorgio Vasari (in particular it is assumed behind those depicting the «Battle of Scannagallo») lies the legendary painting of the Renaissance genius. The investigations carried out so far have not given definitive results to this hypothesis. For the pool of experts, authors of the monumental book, building-related and historical events of the Salon of the Palazzo Vecchio witness the fact that in the course of the first half of the Sixteenth century repeated transformations occurred, with such demolitions and reconstructions (the Great Hall was even transformed for a few years into a military housing with the construction of flues, close to the perimeter walls) that no trace of the masterpiece -— had it ever been there -— could have survived.

According to Roberto Bellucci (former restorer of the Hard Stones Mill in Florence) and Cecilia Frosinini (director of the mural restoration sector of the Hard Stones Mill), authors of the essay «Leonardo, from the Pope’s Hall to the Grane Hall. Times, materials, and snags», the failure to create an innovative plaster prevented Leonardo «to go ahead and undertake the actual painting part», because it occurred «at the stage when the wall was still being prepared».

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