Lost Leonardo Searched for with Infrared – Its also used to help art collectors find lost signatures – A short video

By Kelly Rose Almeida, Guest Blogger

From Leonardo Da Vinci to your own paintings, this instrument is used to search for hidden treasures within art across the globe.

Every art history class that learns about the beauty of the Renaissance has heard of “The Lost Leonard.”  The story begins like so.  In 1504 Leonardo da Vinci was given the commission by Piero Soderinito to honor the Hall of Five Hundred of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.  His adversary, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, who had just finished his masterpiece David, was designated the opposite wall. Michelangelo chose to depict The Battle of Cascin and had finished a preparatory cartoon but other complications kept him from attempting his fresco. Leonardo chose to portray The Battle of Anghiari. Leonardo not only finished the planning drawings but also began painting his mural. Sadly, he never completed this vision.  Decades later, the chamber was reconstructed, and it was believed that this unfinished mural was lost to the ages.

There are many tragedies in art history; stories of art lost in wars, burned in protest, or destroyed by dictators.  It is rare that these stories have a happy ending. But this anecdote may not be over. In recent years, Maurizio Seracini, an Italian expert in high-technology art analysis, believes that behind one of the murals painted by the architect and artist Giorgio Vasari, lies Leonardo’s Anghiari fresco.  This conclusion was formed because in the upper part of Vasari’s fresco, a Florentine The Battle of Angiari.

Right: The “Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana” (1563) by Vasari. Left: A copy by Peter Paul Rueben of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “ The Battle of Anghiari”, which may be hidden beneath Vasari’s mural that now adorns the Hall of Five Hundred in Italy.

It is almost impossible to see whether or not Leonardo’s famous mural exists beneath Vasari’s fresco, almost being the operative word. Equipped with an infrared reflectometer, Maurizio Seracini and his team can use infrared light to penetrate the thinner layers of paint to reveal whether or not he has discovered the “Lost Leonardo” without damaging the existing fresco, which could help change the course of Western art.

Although this tale takes place thousands of miles away, this technology is available to us here in California. Fine Art Conservation Laboratories in Santa Barbara has an IR reflectometer that can help find similar treasures hidden beneath paintings that are brought into the lab. FACL may be the only private lab that has this instrument on the western seaboard. Using an IR reflectometer, head conservator Scott Haskins is able to find hidden or fraudulent signatures, drawings/sketches beneath layers of paint created by the artist, obscured restorations, and inscriptions underneath linings. These details are essential for art collectors that could alter the history, authenticity, and value of your paintings.

A short 2 minute video that was just posted on Youtube was also picked up by CNBC who is planning to feature Mr. Haskins in a episode of treasure hunter collectors who are searching for hidden details and clues in their artwork. See the video by clicking on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWNshrFvl98 (Be sure to give it a THUMBS UP and leave a comment!) It features a painting sold by Christies Auction House in 1899 as attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds. Here’s the photo below.

An IR reflectometer is a remarkable tool that has many capabilities. Its use is worldwide, and its impact is astonishing. With this technology, art conservators, art historians, and art collectors are able to uncover the mysteries and histories of their beloved works of art.

If you have questions about an art item of yours, feel free to call and discuss it with Scott M. Haskins 805 564 3438 or faclartdoc@gmail.com

For more information about art appraisals contact Richard Holgate at 805 895 5121

Follow Mr. Haskins on Facebook at “Tips for Art Collectors”  “Fine Art Conservation” and “Scott M. Haskins”

About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at https://www.fineartconservationlab.com/testimonials/
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25 Responses to Lost Leonardo Searched for with Infrared – Its also used to help art collectors find lost signatures – A short video

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