Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dr. Seracini Discusses his Diagnostic Research on the "Adoration of the Magi"

The "Adoration of the Magi" not really a DaVinci

Leonardo da Vinci: famed painter, scholar, and scientist whose works during the Italian Renaissance have inspired each following generation. But what if we discovered that the images we admire most were not in fact painted by the master himself? Dr. Maurizio Seracini, known as a 21st century Renaissance man, has asked himself this very question. Dr. Seracini has come to be known in the art world for the scientific methods he uses to analyze not only the surfaces of paintings, but the underlying sketches and materials as well. However he originally gained his notoriety by performing diagnostic research on Leonardo da Vinci's Adoration of the Magi, which ended in an astonishing discovery: the Adoration was not actually painted by the hand of da Vinci.

The Adoration of the Magi, located at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy, was originally commissioned to da Vinci in March 1481. Yet, in 1482 da Vinci left Florence for Milan leaving the painting unfinished. In 2002 Dr. Seracini was hired to run a series of diagnostic tests in hopes of determining the execution techniques, chemical makeup of the work, and if the piece would be able to undergo restoration.

While performing a cross-section analysis examination Seracini discovered that the surface paint, what he lovingly refers to as the "brown jelly" layer, was not applied by Leonardo. When looking at a cross-section of the Adoration, Seracini noted that this brown layer of paint was filling up preexisting cracks in the painting. This meant that before the surface paint was applied the base layers of the painting would have needed time to dry, age, and finally crack (a process that would take anywhere from fifty to one hundred years). Therefore, only the base layers of the painting could have been completed by da Vinci; while the surface layer (see photo in upper left) was applied by an unknown and lesser artist.

To further prove his finding Seraici used to IR reflectography look through the brown layer of paint. By using this process he was able to reveal the underlying sketch work (see photo to the right) of the Adoration that was completed by da Vinci. The work found underneath was far superior to that on the surface, further solidifying Seracini's discovery.

For more information:

"The Leonardo Cover-Up," by Melinda Henneberger

Decoding "Leonardo da Vinci," by Dr. Maurizio Seracini - Here you can also find videos of Dr. Seracini discussing his work but you must have Real Player in order to download and watch them.

"Top Interational Premier: Adoration of the Magi"