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Battle of Anghiari was made in 1505 on a wall in the grand meeting hall of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, as part of an intentional artist’s duel with Michelangelo, who was commissioned to illustrate a different battle scene on the opposite wall.
But Battle of Anghiari was never finished, and it had been commissioned at a time when the ruling Medici family were ousted from Florence. When they returned, Duke Cosimo commissioned his architect, Giorgio Vasari, to renovate the room, increasing its size, and also to paint it with a new fresco cycle showing Medici military victories.
Vasari, the first art historian, was a great admirer of Leonardo and it is unlikely that he willingly painted over Battle of Anghiari, obliterating it. He planted a clue for us to follow: In that immense room, the Sala dei Cinquecento, there are only two words painted in. Cerca trova. Seek and you shall find.
Scholars believe that Vasari built a false wall over Leonardo’s painting, to protect it while still fulfilling his commission—a trick he used to successfully preserve Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, one of the most important paintings in history, when he renovated the church of Santa Maria Novella around 1570. The fresco was only rediscovered in 1860. There is hope that Leonardo’s Battle could likewise see the light of day, but its excavation has been tangled for years in the famously convoluted Italian bureaucracy.
In this talk, Dr Noah Charney will tell the story, which was also the subject of his 2017 Pulitzer finalist book, Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art.
Wednesday 20 January, 7pm-8pm
Participants will be emailed the link to the session on the day of the event.
Suitable for adults and teens age 15 and up. Free event and bookings are essential.
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