Florence: “Leonardo did not paint the Battle of Anghiari in the Salone dei Cinquecento”

The yellow seems to be revealed and the mystery razed to the ground: “There is no Battle of Anghiari under the painting by Vasari in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio” assures Cecilia Frosinini, expert on Leonardo da Vinci, director of the mural painting restoration department of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence. And this is confirmed with her by a pool of experts – art historians, architectural historians – who had participated in a conference on the decoration of the Great Hall of Palazzo Vecchio, a conference that has already placed a tombstone on the search for the famous Leonardesque battle that also inspired by Dan Brown’s “Inferno”. The proceedings of that conference are now part of the book: “The Great Hall of Palazzo Vecchio and the Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci. From the architectural configuration to the decorative apparatus”, published by the Florentine publishing house Olschki in the Leonardian Library series. Studies and Documents’, edited by Roberta Barsanti, Gianluca Belli, Emanuela Ferretti and Cecilia Frosinini.

The research that converged in the book was presented and discussed this morning in the Vasari Auditorium of the Uffizi Gallery, in the presence of the museum director Eike Schmidt, Cinzia Maria Sicca Bursill-Hall, full professor of history of modern art at the University of Pisa. , Francesca Fiorani, professor of modern art history at the University of Virginia, and Marcello Simonetta, historian and researcher of The Medici Archives Project.

For some time it has been debated whether under the frescoes by Giorgio Vasari in the hall of the Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio, in particular under the “Battle of Scannagallo” Leonardo’s fresco was hidden. The investigations carried out so far have not given definitive confirmation to this hypothesis and not even the conjectures on the famous writing “Cerca Trova” painted on a green banner in the fresco by Giorgio Vasari in the hall. For the pool of expert authors of the book (over 600 pages), the historical and construction events of the Salone and Palazzo Vecchio attest that during the first half of the sixteenth century several transformations took place, with demolitions and reconstructions such that no trace of the masterpiece would have could have survived. Indeed, the Great Hall became for some years in military accommodation with the construction of flues close to the perimeter walls. “With these new research, the question has been shifted from where the Battle of Anghiari was carried out to whether it was carried out,” Fiorani explained. “Not only do we not have the fresco, but they no longer even have the Great Hall of Palazzo Vecchio as Leonardo knew it”, said Cinzia Maria Sicca Bursill-Hall.

In 2012 he promoted research to hunt the then mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi also joined the phantom fresco by Leonardo who in a tweet posted: “Having demonstrated that the battle of Anghiari exists, I ask the Government to authorize us to verify the conditions in which it is. And get it out”. Indeed, explorations with a microprobe were authorized on Vasari’s fresco.


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