Da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi revealed

If not quite decoded.. yet. Two reasons for linking this. Firstly, I find the the whole process of revealing this work, as well as what is revealed, fascinating [??? – Ed] and secondly, because the Guardian’s Portadown based printers are crap lack a modern enough press for a full colour edition [as noted by joemomma on this thread, and by Guardian executive editor, Sheila Fitzsimons], we miss out on the colour images everyone else gets. Fortunately the Guardian Digital edition has the images online – there’s a PDF file there too. Btw, interesting stuff over the gap.

Or you could visit the, somewhat disappointing [online], Uffizi Gallery’s Leonardo Room

Now, back to the real reason for noting this.

Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown will be beside himself with glee.. no doubt even more copies of his book will be sold after the full report gets published [is that possible? – Ed]

ANYway, Maurizio Seracini, who is something of an Leonardo specialist has been examining Da Vinci’s The Adoration of the Magi for four years according to the Guardian, funded by the Swiss-based Kalpa group as part of its Art Diagnostics Project. They helpfully place one condition on their funded research

The only requirement is that the results obtained by Kalpa-funded researchers are made widely available at the end of their projects.

And, on their website [click on The Leonardo Da Vinci Project, or The Adoration of the Magi, in the left hand menu] they have some of the preliminary results reported in the Guardian, including this –

In a discovery which was unpalatable to the Uffizi Gallery which owns the painting, Dr. Seracini has been able to prove that the top layer of the Adoration of the Magi is not by Leonardo. Chemical analysis and microscopic examination has shown that the painting’s surface layer in the painted areas dates from the period between 1530 and 1580, i.e. between fifty and a hundred years after Leonardo abandoned the work. Antonio Paolucci, a former fine arts minister who now supervises the Uffizi, has said that he was “surprised and disconcerted” at the findings.

There’s a neat Shockwave file revealing one of the images on the Kapla site.

As the Guardian’s John Hooper reports, there’s a lot more going on under that top layer –

Whether covered up by Da Vinci or someone else, Mr Seracini said he has found “a whole new world” under the surface which no one disputes was created by Da Vinci. There is ample documentary evidence that he was commissioned to paint an Adoration of the Magi and that he completed at least part of the work.

“You get a wonderful sense of Leonardo’s creative ferment,” said Martin Kemp, an art history professor at Oxford University and one of the few experts who has seen the partial results of Mr Seracini’s work. “The amount of brainstorming going on underneath the painting is remarkable.”

The debate seems likely to continue –

Mr Seracini believes this upper layer was applied a half-century or more after Da Vinci. But most art historians remain unconvinced.

Some have argued the work was never intended to be seen in its current form; that the orange-brown mixture was intended merely as underpaint. Just as controversial is the question of Da Vinci’s intentions.

Mr Seracini said Da Vinci created the under-drawing as an underpainting because he used a brush and a mixture of lampblack and watery glue.

“Otherwise it would just have faded,” he added.

Was he saying that Leonardo might have suspected his work would not stay the way he intended it, and may have deliberately preserved it that way? “I’m not going to speculate on that,” Mr Seracini replied briskly. “That’s for art historians to do. But I cannot rule it out.”

Art historians.. and fiction writers perhaps..

Still.. Did I mention that this stuff is fascinating?

  • middle-class taig

    Cheers pete – some of that’s amazing

  • Yoda

    Cool, Pete.

    Rebuilding the pagan temple? Interesting.

    Although Brown shot himself in the foot when he went on record to say that Les dossiers secrets were real. They were a brilliant hoax. Even the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail still can’t admit they were conned.

    DVC is a good yarn, but horribly written.

  • peteb

    Thanks guys,

    I think that Kapla Group website will be worth keeping an eye on.. and I ‘ll just note what they say about their founding principles –

    The site indicates that there may be multi-media material avaiable in future, and if the shockwave demonstration of Dr. Seracini’s work is anything to go by, it should be good – here’s that Shockwave link again

  • Mr. Bingley

    Neat stuff, pete!

  • peteb

    Indeed, Mr Bingley. Thanks for stopping by 🙂