Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

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Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:24 am

From the old ATU: a fun Art thread:

LINK EXPIRED

I'd like to rebuild this entertaining thread when I get the time.


Last edited by eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:39 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:25 pm

From The Daily Mail:

Is the Turin Shroud really a Self Portrait by Renaissance Man Leonardo da Vinci?
By David Derbyshire

Last updated at 10:21 AM on 1st July 2009


He was the ultimate Renaissance man - studying anatomy, designing a rudimentary helicopter and creating some of the most admired paintings of the age.

But could Leonardo da Vinci also have perpetrated history's greatest art forgery?
That's the suggestion of one expert, who claims that Leonardo was responsible for faking the Turin Shroud.




Self image? Leonardo da Vinci (right) is suspected of faking the image of Christ's face on the Turin Shroud using his own features

The relic has inspired generations of pilgrims who have flocked to see what they believe is the face of the crucified Jesus.

But it has also provoked bitter controversy after scientists carbon-dated it to the Middle Ages.
Now an American artist has entered the fray, putting forward her own theory about its origin.
Lillian Schwartz, a graphic consultant at the School of Visual Arts in New York, claims that the image is a self-portrait of Leonardo, which was made using a crude photographic technique.
Using computer scans she found that the face on the Turin Shroud and a self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci share the same dimensions.


Miss Schwartz came to prominence in the 1980s when she made detailed measurements of the Mona Lisa and a Leonardo self-portrait.

To her amazement, the two faces lined up perfectly, leading her to suggest that he used a self portrait as a model for the painting.

Earlier this year she used the same technique to compare another Leonardo self-portrait with the Turin Shroud.
'It matched. I'm excited about this,' she said. 'There is no doubt in my mind that the proportions that Leonardo wrote about were used in creating this Shroud's face.'


According to a Channel Five documentary to be shown tonight, Leonardo scorched his facial features on to the linen of the Shroud using a sculpture of his face and a photographic device called a 'camera obscura'.

He would have hung the shroud's fabric over a frame in a blacked- out room and coated it with a substance to make it light-sensitive, just like photographic film.

When the sun's rays passed through a lens in one of the walls, Leonardo's 3D model would have been projected on to the material, creating a permanent image.

According to the documentary, da Vinci 'scorched' his facial features onto the linen using a primitive photographic device called a 'camera obscura'

Shroud researcher Lynn Picknett said: 'It is spooky, it is jaw-dropping.
'The faker of the shroud had to be a heretic. He had to have a grasp of anatomy and he had to have at his fingertips a technology which would completely fool everyone until the 20th century.'

The programme points out that Leonardo was fascinated with optical equipment and his notebooks contain one of the earliest drawings of a camera obscura.

Mrs Picknett added: 'If Leonardo could have known that 500 years after he died generations of pilgrims are still crossing themselves over the image, I think he would have laughed quite a lot.'
Although the Turin Shroud remains a popular attraction, most people now concede it is a fake.

Radiocarbon dating in 1988 showed the cloth was made between 1260 and 1390. However, the image itself has not been carbon dated.

But Professor John Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Centre of Colorado, who believes the item dates from the time of Jesus's crucifixion, dismissed the Leonardo hypothesis. 'It is based on some very poor scientific and historical scholarship,' he said.

The earliest known record of the shroud appears on a commemorative medallion struck in the mid-14th century and on display at the Cluny Museum Paris, he added.

'It clearly shows clerics holding up the shroud and is dated to around 100 years before Leonardo was born.
'There is no evidence whatsoever that Leonardo was involved in the shroud.'
The professor believes the radiocarbon dating of the shroud was wrong because the sample was contaminated.



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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:33 pm

From The Daily Telegraph:

Was Turin Shroud faked by Leonardo da Vinci?

The Turin Shroud was faked by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci using pioneering photographic techniques and a sculpture of his own head, a television documentary claims.


The artefact has been regarded by generations of believers as the face of the crucified Jesus Photo: GETTY/CHANNEL FIVE

By Alastair Jamieson
7:49AM BST 01 Jul 2009

A study of facial features suggests the image on the relic is actually da Vinci's own face which could have been projected into the cloth.

The artefact has been regarded by generations of believers as the face of the crucified Jesus who was wrapped in it, but carbon-dating by scientists points to its creation in the Middle Ages.

American artist Lillian Schwartz, a graphic consultant at the School of Visual Arts in New York who came to prominence in the 1980s when she matched the face of the Mona Lisa to a Leonardo self-portrait, used computer scans to show that the face on the Shroud has the same dimensions to that of da Vinci.

“It matched. I'm excited about this,” she said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the proportions that Leonardo wrote about were used in creating this Shroud's face.”

The claims is made in a Channel Five documentary, to be shown on Wednesday night, that describes how da Vinci could have scorched his facial features on to the linen of the Shroud using a sculpture of his face and a camera obscura – an early photographic device.

The programme says the fabric could have been hung over a frame in a blacked-out room and coated it with silver sulphate, a substance readily available in 15th century Italy which would have made it light-sensitive.

When the sun's rays passed through a lens in one of the walls, da Vinci’s facial shape would have been projected on to the material, creating a permanent image.

Lynn Picknett, a Shroud researcher and author, said: “The faker of the shroud had to be a heretic, someone with no fear of faking Jesus’ holy redemptive blood.

“He had to have a grasp of anatomy and he had to have at his fingertips a technology which would completely fool everyone until the 20th century.

"He had a hunger to leave something for the future, to make his mark for the future, not just for the sake of art or science but for his ego."

Art historian Professor Nicholas Allen, of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, has called for more tests on the Shroud for the presence of silver sulphate, which causes a reaction with the sun's UV rays.

He said: "If you look at the Shroud of Turin as it appears to the naked eye, you see a negative image of a human being, and if you take a photograph of that you produce a positive image of that human being, which means the shroud is acting as a negative.

"That in itself is a very good clue that it was made photographically."

Radiocarbon dating in 1988 showed the cloth was made between 1260 and 1390.

The programme explains the theory that da Vinci's forgery was commissioned to replace an earlier version that was exposed as a poor fake, which had been bought by the powerful Savoy family in 1453 only to disappear for 50 years. When it returned to public view, it was hailed as a genuine relic, and experts say it was actually the artist's convincing replica.

American Professor Larissa Tracy, of Longwood University in Virginia, told the programme: "Da Vinci had the necessary skills. He knew enough about anatomy and about the physical muscular structure of the body. Da Vinci had all the skills to create an image like the shroud. If anybody had the capacity to work with camera obscura or early photographic technique, it was Leonardo Da Vinci."

However Professor John Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Centre of Colorado, who believes the item dates from the time of Jesus's crucifixion, dismissed the programme’s findings and said the earliest known record of the Shroud appears on a commemorative medallion struck in the mid-14th century and on display at the Cluny Museum Paris, he added.

“It clearly shows clerics holding up the shroud and is dated to around 100 years before Leonardo was born. There is no evidence whatsoever that Leonardo was involved in the shroud.”

The professor believes the radiocarbon dating of the shroud was wrong because the sample was contaminated.

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:36 pm



Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling?

Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa on a piece of pine wood in the year 1506.

Never in the history of Art has one painting been so admired. This is due largely to the enigmatic smile, which has caused much speculation. He recorded in his notebooks the records of model sittings; but nowhere can be found any records of the Mona Lisa model sitting. Why is that? Who posed for him? Dr. Lillian Schwartz of Bell Labs suggests that Leonardo painted himself, and was able to support her theory by analyzing the facial features of Leonardo's face and that of the famous painting, She digitized both the self-portrait of the artist and the Mona Lisa. She flipped the self portrait and merged the two images together using a computer. She noticed the features of the face aligned perfectly!

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:43 pm

From the "Every Painter Paints Himself" website:

The most crucial piece of information about the Mona Lisa missing from standard textbooks is that the proportions of the Mona Lisa’s face differ from an earlier version seen in X-rays but are similar to the artist’s own in a well-known self-portrait. Lillian Schwartz, a computer scientist, discovered that the position, angles and dimensions of their eyes, pupils, cheekbones, noses and mouths match precisely. The distances between the inner corners of their eyes, which she described as one of the most individual characteristics of a face, are within 2 percent of one another. Her protruding brow, moreover, is rare in women but a feature of Leonardo and most males as well.1 Not mentioned in her article are the common bags under their eyes, also unusual in a young woman, and the long flowing hair. Even the lighting produces similar shading in each face. Schwartz’s findings appeared in a science magazine and have been widely ignored since. One prominent curator even remarked at the time: "Art history will survive this crap".


Left: Detail of Leonardo's Mona Lisa (c.1503-06)
Right: Detail, inverted, of Leonardo's Self-Portrait (c. 1512)


Despite academic skepticism today Leonardo himself wrote that there is an automatic tendency in painters to produce figures which ‘resemble their masters’ while an acquaintance of Leonardo’s in Milan mocked him for making his figures look like himself.

More recently, this website has demonstrated that major artists in almost every period since the Renaissance have fused their own features onto portraits of others bringing into doubt the long-held belief that portraits are the early equivalent of a photograph.


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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:41 pm

Leonardo da Vinci: the myth and the man

Leonardo's Last Supper still exists, in great part, due to the romance of its crumbling patina. But like the man who created it, the painting seems to defy understanding

Frances Stonor Saunders
guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 October 2011 22.55 BST


Decoding Leonardo ... The Last Supper. Photograph: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Edith Wharton first saw Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper during a trip to Milan when she was 17. It was to be almost four decades before she finally gave vent to the passion it had aroused. During that long interval, she said, she had "wanted to bash that picture's face". It wasn't the most edifying contribution to art history and she was careful not to broadcast it. Rather, she confessed her loathing privately in a letter to the art historian Bernard Berenson, who, as "the most authorised fist in the world", had just done her pugilistic business for her.

Berenson had published The Study and Criticism of Italian Art (Third Series, 1916) in which he revealed that, as a boy, he had "felt a repulsion" for The Last Supper. "The faces were uncanny, their expressions forced, their agitation alarmed me," he recalled feverishly. "They were the faces of people whose existence made the world less pleasant and certainly less safe." This description of the most famous narrative painting in the world as resembling a Neapolitan marketplace drew great opprobrium. One American newspaper compared it to an act of war, claiming Berenson had "torpedoed" Leonardo's reputation (this at a time when German U-boats were sinking allied ships). Another review argued that he had shown "such want of sympathy with Leonardo's work as is generally considered to place a critic's estimate out of court".

The Last Supper is inscribed with a double sacredness: the sacredness of Christ's passion, the entire story of which it summarises; and the sacredness of Leonardo da Vinci's legend as "the one artist of whom it may be said with perfect literalness: nothing that he touched but turned into a thing of eternal beauty". This was Berenson in 1896, before he came to repudiate his own judgment as symptomatic of a slavish habit of overpraising Leonardo.

Goethe once said that one must not censure a Leonardo except on one's knees. Berenson's refusal to genuflect insulted a tradition of veneration whose origins date back to Giorgio Vasari's "Life" of Leonardo, published in 1550. "Many men and women are born with remarkable talents," Vasari wrote. "But occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci …who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease."

Vasari's Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects is the Ur-text, the coping stone of art history, and his legend of Leonardo as the Ur-artist – superhuman, favoured by God, unravelling the mysteries of creation – persisted unchallenged for centuries. Scrutinised for accuracy, very little of his account survives as reliable fact, as first demonstrated in Carlo Amoretti's 1804 biography of Leonardo. Since then, such evidence as exists – legal, contextual, pictorial and, of course, Leonardo's own copious writings – has been rigorously marshalled and analysed, giving the corrective to some of the more fantastic accretions that grew up around his name and the works attributed to him. (When Charles Lamb wrote from Blenheim that only two of the nine pictures there by Leonardo pleased him, none of them was actually by Leonardo at all. There are only an estimated 16 extant panel paintings, of which half have been corralled from across continents for the National Gallery's forthcoming exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan).

But no fact-finding enterprise can ever provide an empirical basis for the "true" or "real" Leonardo. Even as we consciously expose the fictive exaggerations of Vasari, we continue subconsciously to incorporate the myths and enlarge them. Leonardo's prodigious experimental and investigative output, as witnessed by his notebooks, his non-acquiescence ("he won't take yes for an answer," as Kenneth Clark put it), contributed to the belief that he is an indispensable instrument of man's search for meaning. Just as he chased down the "proofs" for his theories on the laws of nature, energy, motivation and emotion ("moti"), so, with a kind of mimetic restlessness, we rifle his work for the key to decode our intellectual and existential DNA. In his Introduction to the Method of Leonardo da Vinci (1895), the poet Paul Valéry confessed that "knowing very little" about him, he had "invented a Leonardo of my own". Leonardo thus becomes "Leonardo", an allegory, a fulcrum for human consciousness.

Valéry's essay (written in prose as dense as a traffic bollard) was less a manual for interpreting Leonardo's method than a pretext for the creation of a "universal man" for the modern age, a man capable of harnessing vast synthetic conceptions to the mastery of himself. Dismissing Leonardo's "personality" as irrelevant, an "encrustation", Valéry co-opted him as the impersonal genius, a kind of hyper-conscious filter for the verification of knowledge, knowledge that could then be pressed into service as action and power.

This idea of the exceptional man who not only discovers but improves upon the world had considerable traction at a time when the renaissance was being reframed as an ideological, and not solely an aesthetic, movement. "La découverte du monde, la découverte de l'homme". This was how the historian Jules Michelet, writing in 1855, defined it – as a liberating, indeed a liberation movement whose historical function was the delivery of Europe from the political, religious and intellectual servitude of the middle ages. In that movement, for which Leonardo (alongside Filippo Brunelleschi) was the vox clamantis, man had "plumbed the deep foundations of his nature" and "begun to take his stand on Justice and on Reason". The Last Supper, with its protean, Faustian figures, was no longer a theological or liturgical phenomenon, a religious feast, but a council of political action (an interpretation that played out well in contemporary Russia, where Christ was reconfigured as a revolutionary and a democrat, a symbol of social and political opposition to Tsarist rule).

Michelet was deeply entangled in the culture wars of his time. Republican and staunchly anti-clerical, he conducted a bruising polemic against the Catholic church in France. His lectures on the renaissance, a high-octane mix of rhetoric and call-to-arms, so angered the government that his lecture hall was closed down in 1848 for three months. Michelet needed a secular, humanist figure to stand for political and intellectual emancipation, and this is what he delivered. His Leonardo tells us less about the nature of man than about the nature of European man in the turbulent mid-19th century. This is Leonardo as usable past, as a viable element in the creation of an historical meaning that expresses and confirms the values of a particular group.

Indeed, "Leonardo" has become an adjective to describe what survival in history is. And as records of survival go, his is pretty much unbeatable. He even survives Sigmund Freud, whose psychoanalytic study of 1910 depended heavily on invented episodes, supplied by a Russian novel, from Leonardo's childhood. From this flimsy premise, the Viennese mind-doctor proposed that Leonardo had a frustrated erotic relationship with his mother that developed into a repressed or idealised homosexuality that in turn was sublimated into artistic creation and scientific investigation, much of which was uncompleted due to the absence of his father.

A century on, Freud's grammar of the subconscious has become so familiar as to be easily dismissed as cliché. But clichés only become clichés because they are good enough in the original. His monograph on Leonardo was the first psychosexual history to be published, and the vehicle for the first full emergence of the concept of narcissism, which Freud didn't fully elaborate until a paper in 1914. It introduced a new model for the development of the human personality: Leonardo was the first Freudian archetype.

Freud's intervention was significant in another way. He was very attracted to the romance of modern archaeology, collecting artefacts and archaeological field reports, carefully posing an array of Egyptian figurines on his desk. The job of psychoanalyst, he claimed, was similar to that of the archaeologist: both must "uncover layer after layer of the patient's psyche, before coming to the deepest, most valuable treasures". Goethe had claimed that the key to Leonardo's genius lay in his ability to penetrate beyond superficial appearances to what lay beneath: "He began to be aware, that behind the outside of objects … there still lay concealed many a secret, the knowledge of which it would be worth his utmost efforts to attain."

Freud's evocation of the concealed space – the tomb as well as the womb – and the suggestion that its long-buried arcana could be accessed through methodical deduction, like the Rosetta stone (whose decoder Jean-François Champollion Freud greatly admired), unleashed a mania for finding hidden clues in Leonardo's work. A disciple of Freud claimed in 1913 to have discovered a vulture – a maternal symbol in ancient Egypt – in the drapery of Saint Anne's clothing in the London cartoon of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. In the 1940s, a foetus was "identified" in the rock just below the virgin's right foot. When Dan Brown unleashed The Da Vinci Code in 2003 (which, incidentally, marked the renaming of Leonardo as a place rather than a person), he was simply bringing this obsession with esoterica into the mainstream.

Is it possible that Leonardo himself connived, in his lifetime, in his own legend? We know that within a single generation after his death he was construed as a magus or sage, "the Druid Hermes, his beard so long", as one admirer wrote. That beard, essential accessory for a prophet, appears in every likeness of Leonardo, even in the drawing in Turin that is widely thought to be a self-portrait. Did the living figure assimilate himself to the type?

It's a tantalising possibility, but of a kind unpopular with many contemporary critics. Perhaps reflecting a broader mood of austerity, such speculative exuberance has been curtailed in favour of what Martin Kemp calls the "sober counterweight to the accumulation of legend". Charles Hope suggests that Leonardo has been credited "with an originality which is largely unjustified", time and again circling mathematical and philosophical questions that had been studied before but which he was ignorant of replicating because he hadn't taken "adequate account of observations and arguments available in standard Classical sources". We should not, argue these critics, look to everything Leonardo produced as taking us over the threshold into some final mystery.

If we want to know why Mona Lisa smiles, we should remind ourselves that this is a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo ("jocund" in Italian). The documentation tells us so. Even Vasari got this right. The facts have been known for a long time, but somehow we strain for other, less prosaic answers. When Marcel Duchamp mischievously suggested in his 1919 readymade that Mona Lisa smiles because "she's got a hot ass", he was parodying the obsession with Leonardo's enigma and poking fun at the mystifications, the purple prose, the sheer dreariness of "aesthetics".

Duchamp's readymade was a postcard of the Louvre portrait (to which he added a goatee and his infamous inscription) and it spoke to the familiarity of Leonardo's work through reproduction. Along with the Mona Lisa, the most widely distributed image was that of The Last Supper, at first through engravings and later photographs. Familiarity breeds contempt, and there is a long history of inversion for comic and satirical purposes. Hogarth repeatedly used its compositional structure to mocking effect, notably in The Cockpit, where Christ has become a gambler. Later, filmmakers such as Buñuel and Pasolini played havoc with its sacred associations by relocating it to secular and seedy settings. In Buñuel's Viridiana, a film condemned by the Vatican, violently drunk beggars re-enact the tableau over a table of stolen food while a nun is molested. This is the reverse compliment paid to icons: they are defaced for their virtue.

We mustn't lick all the paint off our gods, as Virginia Woolf once warned, and indeed The Last Supper, as if by miracle, has survived all attempts to loosen the hold it has on us. Ironically, it suffered first at the hands of Leonardo himself, who experimented with the technique of fresco to disastrous effect. By applying oils to the surface he trapped moisture in the wall: he literally left the paint unable to breathe. Twenty years after completing the mural he returned to the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie to retouch it, but the man who had dreamed of turning back rivers could do nothing to reverse his own technical failure. Vasari, in the 1568 edition of The Lives described it as "so badly effected that nothing is visible but a mass of blots".

In 1652 it was further damaged when an existing door beneath it was widened and heightened. Bashed out with hammers and pickaxes, the mural's crust was loosened in many places. In 1770 it was scraped with iron instruments by a restorer behaving like a sawbone surgeon ("a true bungler", said Goethe). Napoleon's troops used the refectory as a dormitory and amused themselves by throwing stones and horse dung at it before Napoleon intervened with an edict to have the room bricked up and sealed. And in August 1943 an allied a bomb tore off the roof, leaving The Last Supper exposed to the elements under a tarpaulin for three years, "the saddest painting in the world" (Aldous Huxley).

The Last Supper still exists, in great part, due to the romance with its crumbling patina, the drama of its self-effacement. It is this, as much as the theatricality, the élan vital of its composition, that secures it a place outside of, as well as within, the Christian story it narrates. Like the man who created it, we can never know it fully. Both are metaphors for the way we construct meaning – they hold on to their secrets, but they also reveal that the history of what we know is only ever the history of what we desire to know.

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:54 am

Lost Leonardo Da Vinci battle scene sparks row between art historians

Experts sign petition to stop drilling on Giorgio Vasari's Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana which 'covers' the fresco

Tom Kington in Rome

The Guardian, Tuesday 6 December 2011


Rubens' drawing after The Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci hangs in the Louvre. Photograph: Alinari Archives/Corbis

A 35-year hunt to uncover a lost work by Leonardo Da Vinci is reaching a climax in Florence, while also facing an angry protest by more than 100 prominent art historians who deplore the destructive but speculative work possibly leading to the masterpiece's uncovery.

The row centres on a wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio on which is painted a 16th century fresco. But, according to researcher Maurizio Seracini, this wall conceals another wall on which Da Vinci bgan painting The Battle of Anghiari, a monumental battle scene that is considered by some his finest work.

Seracini, who works at the University of California, San Diego, and is featured in Dan Brown's mystery The Da Vinci Code, inserted tiny cameras through drilled holes in the visible wall a week ago, and found a 2cm cavity. On the back wall beyond the cavity, traces of an organic pigment were found, convincing some that the Da Vinci masterpiece exists. With full results expected in the new year, the city'ss mayor, Matteo Renzi claimed: "We are finally there – after five centuries we are able finally to resolve this mystery."

But 150 art historians from museums including the New York Met and the National Gallery in London have signed a petition to stop the work, angry at the fact that holes are being drilled in the front wall bearing its own renown fresco, Giorgio Vasari's The Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana, painted in 1563.

"We also believe that Da Vinci painted on the wall opposite, but Seracini just doesn't know his art history," said Tomaso Montanari, the art history professor who started the petition. Backing the experts, the heritage group Italia Nostra has complained to Florence magistrates, who have opened an investigation.

"This is a wasted expense when we need every penny for restoring the art we have," said Italia Nostra president Alessandra Mottola Molfino. "Instead of restoring the Vasari fresco we are drilling holes in it."

Da Vinci started in 1504 on his battle scene using an experimental oil paint technique which failed miserably, dripping before it dried and leading him to abandon the work. Those scenes he completed were however widely copied, including by Rubens, whose drawing of one scene hangs in the Louvre. After 1555 the room was renovated, and Da Vinci's half-finished painting was lost.

Seracini's suspicion is that Vasari was loth to destroy Da Vinci's work, and preferred to brick it up behind a new wall and add his fresco on this. This hunch was stimulated when he found that in his fresco Vasari painted a soldier holding a flag on which is written: "He who seeks, finds." Using radar, Seracini then found the cavity behind the fresco.

But Montanari is not convinced. "Vasari knew how to remove works by other people while keeping them intact. What sense would there have been sealing up the Da Vinci, unless you get into childish Dan Brown logic?"

Montanari bagan the petition last week when Cecilia Frosinone, an expert with a Florence art restoration institute working with Seracini, resigned on "ethical" grounds after the culture minister gave permission to drill seven holes in the Vasari fresco. "We don't have external controls on the work any more, and that is what we want restored," said Montanari.

On Monday Seracini described the petition as sour grapes, an attempt "by the excluded to block extraordinary research", adding: "This demagogic attack risks Italy being derided around the world."

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:16 am

Lost Da Vinci should remain a mystery

Discovering a buried Leonardo painting would be magnificent but drilling through a 16th-century fresco by Vasari is surely a step too far?

Jonathan Jones
The Guardian


Cracking the Da Vinci code … a view of the Salone dei Cinquecento as the search for Leonardo's masterpice The Battle of Anghiari begins in the Palazzo Vecchio. Photograph: Laura Lezza/Getty Images

A lost work by Leonardo da Vinci? A battle painted on a wall, whose fate is mysterious and unresolved? Stupendous. No wonder it has fascinated the Italian "art detective" Maurizio Seracini so much he has been searching for decades for clues to the survival of Leonardo's painting The Battle of Anghiari, returning again and again to the room where it was painted with increasingly complex technologies designed to see through the walls.

Now he has got permission to go further, and actually drill holes in the existing fresco that covers the wall of the Sala dei 500 where he thinks the lost Leonardo lies buried. The fresco he plans to penetrate is by none other than Giorgio Vasari, famous as the author of The Lives of the Artists. As court architect and artist to Cosimo I de' Medici, it was Vasari who reconstructed this room in the middle of the 16th century, and whatever was left of Leonardo's Battle of Anghiari vanished in the course of the rebuilding and redecorating. The question is: would Vasari, who writes eloquently about The Battle of Anghiari in his Life of Leonardo, have simply destroyed it? Surely he would have found a way to preserve it inside the wall? His writings reveal that no one has ever loved art more, or more emotionally lamented its destruction.

150 art historians are so enraged that Seracini has got the go-ahead to invade the work of Vasari that they have signed an official protest. But there is a tantalising precedent. In 1570, Vasari created an altar at the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence that took the place of a great 15th-century fresco by Masaccio: two centuries later the Masaccio was rediscovered behind his work. He had carefully preserved it inside his own additions.

Maybe he did something similar in the Palazzo Vecchio. The eminent art historian Carlo Pedretti, who spoke in Seracini's support in a press conference at the Palazzo Vecchio last year, has long argued that the Battle of Anghiari survives.

Reports on Seracini's art quest regularly cite his claim that a banner in Vasari's painting, saying "Seek and you will find", refers to the lost battle painting. But this is not the real basis for the search. The real reasons to wonder about the painting's possible survival lie in the combination of Vasari's conservation of art elsewhere, and the eyewitness accounts from the earlier 16th century that suggest the unfinished horse battle must have still been visible when Vasari transformed the room.

So there are two sides to this debate, however many angry experts sign letters. It is not ridiculous to think there may be traces of Leonardo's greatest painting hidden in that room in Florence. What might be futile is to think that we must see and touch this painting to possess it. In my own book about The Battle of Anghiari I argue that it is not really "lost" at all: it lives in the world's imagination. It has been recreated by artists from Rubens to Salvador Dali. Most potently of all, it can be glimpsed as a dark and terrible vision in Leonardo's surviving sketches and designs.

Art exists in the mind and soul. The vanished Battle of Anghiari is a dark space of imagination, a chiaroscuro uncertainty, that – in its tantalising nature – encapsulates the unique power of Leonardo. Drill if you must. But it may be more rewarding to look at the surviving fragments and dream.

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:15 am

Louvre's Leonardo was overcleaned, say art experts

Ségolène Bergeon Langle and Jean-Pierre Cuzin quit advisory posts over The Virgin and Child With St Anne's restoration

Dalya Alberge

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 December 2011 15.45 GMT


The cleaning of Leonardo's 500-year-old painting, The Virgin and Child With Saint Anne, has divided the Louvre's advisory committee for its restoration. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

The Louvre is facing accusations that it overcleaned a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, leaving it with a brightness that the Renaissance master never intended.

Two of France's top art experts have voiced their protest over the cleaning of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne – a jewel of western art – by resigning from the Paris museum's advisory committee responsible for its "restoration", the Guardian has learned.

Such was their concern for the 500-year-old painting that Ségolène Bergeon Langle and Jean-Pierre Cuzin – eminent former specialists in conservation and painting respectively at the Louvre – could no longer associate themselves with its treatment.

Bergeon Langle is regarded as France's national authority on the art and the science of restoring paintings. She was director of conservation for all of France's national museums.

She said: "I can confirm that I have resigned from the international consultative committee, but my reasons I am reserving for a meeting with the president-director of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette."

Cuzin, the Louvre's former head of paintings, declined to comment beyond confirming his resignation. But a senior museum source said the experts believed the restoration had gone too far, and that steps had gone ahead without adequate tests. The restoration has divided the committee between those who believe the painting is now too bright and those who regard the cleaning as moderate. There were also disputes over whether an area dismissed as removable repaint was in fact a glaze applied by Leonardo.

Two such resignations are a major embarrassment for the Louvre as well as for fellow colleagues of the international committee, whose 20 members include two specialists from the National Gallery in London, Larry Keith and Luke Syson.

The Louvre source said that Keith and Syson were particularly keen on this restoration: "The English were very pushing, saying they know Leonardo is extremely delicate but 'we can move without any danger to the work'. There was a row a year ago about solvents because they said they were safe and Bergeon Langle said they're not safe. It took a long time before the committee really had explanations on the chemicals used on the picture. Details were asked for [by the critics on the committee], but didn't come for months …

"There are people who are very much for bright hues and strong cleaning. Those people are in charge."

The Louvre source, too, has concerns that it has been overcleaned, but awaits the reaction once the painting is viewed again by experts on 3 January. They will then decide on the retouching.

Jacques Franck, consulting expert to the Armand Hammer centre for Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, is another member of the committee. He described the resignations as a loss, saying Bergeon Langle was "totally irreplaceable as a technical adviser to the committee".

Seventeen years ago, the Louvre abandoned an earlier attempt to clean the painting amid fears over how the solvents were affecting the sfumato, Leonardo's trademark painterly effect for blurring contours. Since then, the British influence on restoration has helped to sway the Louvre.

Michael Daley, director of ArtWatch UK, the restoration watchdog that has repeatedly criticised the National Gallery for its "overzealous" cleaning of paintings, said of the resignations: "Implicitly, this is a vote of no confidence in the National Gallery cleaning policy because the most pro-active members of the [Louvre] committee have been the advisers from the National Gallery."

The Louvre declined to comment on the two resignations, but defended its cleaning process. Vincent Pomarède, the Louvre's head of paintings, said: "Rarely has a restoration been as well prepared, discussed and effected, and never will it have benefited from such effective techniques. The first assessment revealed the excellent state of conservation … comforting us in the choices made."

The National Gallery declined to comment.

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:11 pm


Michelangelo vs Leonardo- Peter Duggan's Artoons.

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:03 am

The real Mona Lisa? Prado museum finds Leonardo da Vinci pupil's take

Prado says pupil painted remarkable portrait alongside Leonardo da Vinci, affording insight into how Mona Lisa actually looked

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 February 2012 10.40 GMT


A detail of the nearly conserved Leonardo da Vinci pupil's take of the Mona Lisa. The Prado has yet to finish conservation work on the whole painting. Photograph: Museo Nacional del Pradio Click on magnifying glass for full image

A contemporaneous copy of the world's most famous painting has been discovered by conservators at the Prado in Madrid, allowing us to see the Mona Lisa as she would probably have looked at the time.

In art historical terms, the discovery is remarkable. The Prado painting had long been thought to be one of dozens of surviving replicas of Leonardo's masterpiece, made in the 16th and 17th centuries.

But, The Art Newspaper reports, recent conservation reveals that the work was in fact painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo.

The original painting hangs behind glass and with enormous security at the Louvre, a gallery it is unlikely to ever leave. There is also no prospect of it being cleaned in the forseeable future, meaning crowds view a work that, although undeniably beautiful, has several layers of old, cracked varnish.

This newly discovered work – found under black overpaint – allows the viewer to see a much fresher version of the captivating young woman, generally acknowledged to be Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo.

The Prado said the restoration had been carried out over the past few months in preparation for an exhibition at the Louvre in March.

Details of the discovery were revealed at a recent Leonardo symposium of experts at the National Gallery in London, which is how the story emerged, a spokeswoman said, adding that there was more conservation work needed and that the painting would not be revealed in its full glory for around three weeks.

"There is much more to see. The process of conservation is still going on, we have not finished."

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:24 pm

The Da Vinci load: Leonardo's packing list revealed

Renaissance artist and anatomist needed pane of glass, forceps and a bone saw, a page from his notebook reveals

Caroline Davies

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 April 2012 17.22 BST


A page from Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, including his 'to-do' list. Photograph: The Royal Collection

Spectacles, a towel and shoelaces might seem unremarkable items to add to any packing list before embarking on a journey, even in the 16th century. Few, except perhaps the Renaissance artist and anatomist Leonardo da Vinci, would also include "a pane of glass, forceps and a fine-tooth bone saw".

The extraordinary "to-do" list, written around 1510 in his distinctive mirror-writing, is taken from a page of his notebooks never before seen in public, and which gives rare insight into Leonardo, the man, as well as his thoughts on what it takes to be an anatomist.

The page is a densely packed miscellany of notes that cover the entire surface. It is thought he wrote it just before travelling to Pavia, south of Milan, to dissect corpses.

The "to-do" list, translated, reads: "On the Utilities. Spectacles with case, firestick, fork, bistoury [a surgical knife], charcoal, boards, sheets of paper, chalk, white wax, forceps, pane of glass, fine-tooth bone saw, scalpel, inkhorn, penknife.

"Get hold of a skull. Nutmeg.

"Observe the holes in the substance of the brain, where there are more of less of them.

"Describe the tongue of the woodpecker and jaw of a crocodile.

"Give measurement of the dead using his finger [as a unit].

"Get your books on anatomy bound. Boots, stockings, comb, towel, shirts, shoelaces, penknife, pens, a skin for the chest, gloves, wrapping paper, charcoal."

Glimpses of the gruesome nature of his trip, are revealed in the notes, such as a reminder "to break the jaw from the side so that you can see the uvula in its position".

The page will go on display for the first time, along with 86 other sheets from the artist's anatomical notebooks, in Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist, at the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace from 4 May.

The collection of all Leonardo's surviving anatomical studies has been part of the Royal Collection since at least 1690. It is thought the private papers were acquired by Charles II from one of the artist's successors.

In addition to his "to-do" list, Leonardo jots down warnings to other would-be anatomists, writing: "Though you may have a love of such things, you will perhaps be impeded by your stomach; and if this does not impede you, you will perhaps be impeded by the fear of living through the night hours in the company of quartered and flayed corpses."

Although Leonardo has long been recognised as one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, the significance of his ground-breaking studies of the human body, which would have transformed European knowledge of the subject, remained lost to the world until the 20th century.

Though he intended to publish, his anatomical studies still remained among his private papers on his death in 1519. Exhibition curator Martin Clayton said of the page: "Soon afterwards we know that he was dissecting corpses in the medical school of the university of Pavia, to the south of Milan, so this packing list may have been drawn up before a journey to Pavia.

"The page is fascinating. Leonardo often covered the pages of his notebooks with observations about anatomy, but this page gives a really personal insight into Leonardo himself."

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:44 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ef-tYOd8xbg&feature=relmfu
Mark Steel on Leonardo (1/5)

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:46 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2gQdGIxq04&feature=relmfu
Mark Steel on Leonardo (2/5)

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:47 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNan_oIMPs0&feature=relmfu
Mark Steel on Leonardo (3/5)

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:48 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E00JEBrVBXU&feature=relmfu
Mark Steel on Leonardo (4/5)

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:50 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiaI9qtQCoA&feature=relmfu
Mark Steel on Leonardo (5/5)

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:22 pm

Leonardo's anatomy

Art and science meet in Leonardo's inspiring vision

Jonathan Jones

guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 April 2012 15.36 BST


Inexplicable genius ... Studies of the foetus in the womb (c1510-13) by Leonardo da Vinci. Photograph: The Royal Collection/ Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Exhibition of the week: Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist

A human foetus nestles in a womb that is like the opened skin of a horsechestnut. Drawn with exquisite tenderness and humanity, this homunculus expresses the wonder and fragility of who we are. I find it more moving than a Rembrandt portrait. In a sense, Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings resemble the works of a benign alien, visiting earth and recording its dissected inhabitants with an eye godlike in its capacity to stand back and analyse, yet infinitely sensitive and loving. The delicacy with which he draws veins or nerves like webs of gossamer is just mind-boggling. To look at one of the drawings in this profound exhibition is to enter deep into the very fabric of being. To see them gathered like this is to run short of superlatives, to gawp in sheer amazement at a genius so inexplicable.

Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings are among the most poignant works of art in the history of humanity. I imagine a remote future, in a distant galaxy, where the hyperevolved descendants of our species clutch one of these drawings in their jellied tentacles to remember us by.

The Queen has opened her jewel case to reveal these incredible drawings. They are given a full, spacious, and illuminating display in this terrific exhibition. Curator Martin Clayton argues that Leonardo was a full-time scientist, and a painter second, by the time he made these. The captions and supporting materials – including modern anatomical models for comparison – show how precisely and originally Leonardo explored human anatomy through dissection, in a way that was totally unprecedented. Surgeons still refer to his drawings. He made superb observations, discovering, for instance, how a heart valve works.

The exhibition argues that Leonardo's discovery of the heart valve brought his research to a tragic end: he could not make the leap from understanding valves to recognising that blood circulates. That was impossible given his medieval starting point. It would take more than a century of medical research to get to the idea of circulation. By the time Leonardo's drawings became famous, long after his death, they had been left behind by science. Yet they are the greatest images that exist of the scientific urge itself: of human curiosity. See these, and take your children – if you have them – to see them. Art is science and science is art in Leonardo's inspiring vision.

• Queen's Gallery, Buckhingham Palace, London SW1, until 7 October

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Wed May 02, 2012 7:10 pm

Is Leonardo da Vinci a great artist or a great scientist?

Catalogues at the ready: one show posits Da Vinci as a scientific genius, another as the absolute artist. For him, such divisions were meaningless

Jonathan Jones Art Blog

The Guardian


The art of curiosity … Leonardo da Vinci studies at the Queen's Gallery. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There's a row going on down at the Palace. The Royal Collection says Leonardo da Vinci was a scientist. The National Gallery gang say he was an artist. It looks likes curators will soon be hitting one another with catalogues.

Well, not really. But the superb new display of Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings at the Royal Collection does offer a different perspective on him from the equally splendid exhibition recently seen at the National Gallery. Where the NG called him a "painter" in its exhibition title and showed off his paintings as never before by securing unprecedented loans, the curator of the Queen's Gallery show argues that in his later life Leonardo saw himself first and foremost as a scientist, and had more or less given up painting. Who is right?

Boringly, they both are. Interestingly, neither is. For Leonardo was a scientist and an artist at the same time and in a way totally unimaginable today. CP Snow's famous image of the "two cultures" of art and science, a great divide in the modern mind, did not apply in the 15th and early 16th centuries when Leonardo lived. The "scientific" knowledge available was barely scientific at all by modern standards. Most of it was inherited from ancient Greece and was a curious mixture of genuine insight, such as the existence of atoms postulated by Democritus, and the superstitious, or mythical, thinking that pervades the Hippocratic Writings. Leonardo was infinitely curious. He taught himself and experimented for himself. He drew inventions and tried to build a flying machine. But he also lived in a late medieval world that allowed him to see analogies between all natural forms: an onion as a model of the human head, a wooden flying machine as a man-made "bird". In other words, his knowledge never got in the way of his imagination.

The anatomical drawings in the Royal Collection are the closest he ever came to modern science. They record his own dissections and are observed so closely and brilliantly that modern doctors can still learn from them. He definitely made real discoveries through sheer observation – the essence of true empirical science. The exhibition makes these discoveries clearer than ever before.

Yet every vein he draws is a miracle of art. He is never more an artist than when he is most a scientist. Even as he patiently reveals the nature of heart valves, he draws with such tender beauty that you gasp at the complex artistic achievement, the subtle textures and three-dimensional illusions, even as you marvel at his insights into the human body. For me, Leonardo's anatomical drawings are both icons of science, and wonders of art.

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Re: Leonardo, the Turin Shroud and the Mona Lisa

Post  eddie on Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:13 am


Stephen Collins. The Guardian

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