A Photographer Thinks He Can Solve the Mystery of the Lost Leonardo da Vinci Painting with a Picture

Illustration for article titled A Photographer Thinks He Can Solve the Mystery of the Lost Leonardo da Vinci Painting with a Picture

"The Battle of Anghiari" is a Leonardo da Vinci painting that many in his era called the Renaissance Man's finest work. The problem is that it's been lost since the 1500's. Many people, however, believe it's hidden behind a brick wall and a photographer thinks he can snap a picture of the work—through the brick wall—to prove it.

"The Battle of Anghiari" is a larger than life, turning-point-of-the-Renaissance-type mural that was originally located in the Palazzo Vecchio. Sadly, it was unceremoniously replaced in 1563 when another artist, Giorgio Vasari, was commissioned to fresco the walls of the Palazzo with his own artwork. No one knows what happened to the da Vinci masterpiece.

However, in the 1970's, Dr. Maurizio Seracini noticed that Vasari had annotated the fresco that replaced the da Vinci painting with the words "Cerca Trova" (Seek and you will find). Interesting, as none of his other frescoes ever included any words. Seracini started researching and discovered something even more fascinating:

Seracini discovered a thin gap between the wall of Renaissance brick that Vasari built and the original stone wall where Leonardo is believed to have painted The Battle of Anghiari – a gap that exists nowhere else in the great hall.


Seracini summed up that the lost Leonardo painting was behind the fresco. But with no way to prove it, without tearing down the Vasari piece at least, Seracini's efforts stalled.

Well, until, David Yoder, a photographer, picked up where Seracini left off. Yoder believed he could take a picture of the da Vinci mural through the Vasari fresco to prove that "The Battle of Anghiari" existed. After talking with a physicist, Yoder determined that a particular kind of gamma camera that's used in the medical field for high-definition tumor imaging could work. He's already done some testing but needs to build that special camera and needs some funding. If you donate, I'm pretty sure you can consider yourself a Da Vinci codebreaker.

Read Yoder's full take of one of da Vinci's biggest mysteries at Kickstarter. [Kickstarter via NY Times, Image Credit: David Yoder/National Geographic Society]

You can keep up with Casey Chan, the author of this post, on Twitter or Facebook.


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If Ang Lee's Hulk movie has proven us anything, it's that bombarding something with gamma radiation will never turn out well.

Mark my words, if they use this gamma camera to look at "The Battle of Anghiari" it will not look great. It will probably be too long, with a slow boring middle part. And they'll find that da Vinci painted huge muscular poodles into it for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.