Scientist pursuing hunt for ‘The Lost Leonardo’


Share post:

Could a 21st-century scientist at Chicago‚Äôs famed Argonne National Laboratory help find a missing masterpiece painted by Leonardo da Vinci more than 500 years ago? Robert Smither thinks he can. 

Peter Paul Rubens’s copy of The Battle of Anghiari, is a lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci at times referred to as “The Lost Leonardo”, which some commentators believe to be still hidden beneath later frescoes in the Hall of Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence [Credit: Wikipedia]

The painting, da Vinci‚Äôs “Battle of Anghiari,” was started in 1505. It would have been Leonardo‚Äôs largest work, if it had ever been completed.  

But da Vinci abandoned the giant work in Florence‚Äôs Palazzo Vecchio when duty called at the Vatican, and it was never finished. The painting remained on the wall for another 60 years, until Italian master Giorgio Vasari was commissioned to redecorate the space. 

It is believed he erected a giant wall in front of Leonardo‚Äôs incomplete painting, applying his own enormous frescoes which exist to this day. 

But is Leonardo‚Äôs missing treasure still there? 

“They never quite mentioned where it was,” Smither laughed. “So part of the mystery is finding it.”  

Working with the National Geographic Society, Smither said he believes he can beam neutrons through Vasari‚Äôs frescoes to the second wall behind. If there is paint on that wall, the particle beams would excite the atoms in that paint, sending gamma rays back through the wall. 

Every color of paint, says Smither, contains its own distinctive metals, and their isotopes would be easily identified. 

“If you see a 158.573-kilovolt gamma ray, you‚Äôve got red paint,” he says. And if that comes back, it means there is another painting on the hidden wall. 

Leonardo‚Äôs missing masterpiece. 

“For the art world, this would be the sensation of the century,” said Smither. 

As with all science, funding is key. The endeavor will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is still being raised. But Smither, a 55-year veteran of Argonne, said he hopes the work can begin sometime next year.  

Author: Phil Rogers | Source: msnbc [October 02, 2011]



Related articles

Darwin in the genome

Research on stickleback fish shows how adaptation to new environments involves many genes A current controversy raging in...

Fort Hawkins dig resumes

Archaeologists are digging for history again at Fort Hawkins during October, trying to map the outer palisade wall...

Brain area unique to humans linked to cognitive powers

Oxford University researchers have identified an area of the human brain that appears unlike anything in the brains...

Milky Way ransacks nearby dwarf galaxies

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia, along with data from other...

Mini-monsters of the forest floor

A University of Utah biologist has identified 33 new species of predatory ants in Central America and the...

Exploring the archaeology of the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish Civil War ended 75 years ago, and it is often referred to as the first chapter...

Crude medical devices from Blackbeard’s ship

Archaeologists have unveiled some unnerving medical tools found amid the wreckage of Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge. A urethral syringe...

NASA reveals new results from inside the ozone hole

NASA scientists have revealed the inner workings of the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica and found...