While still attempting to turn up a high-resolution image of the marriage scene located in the Palazzo Vecchio’s room dedicated to Pope Clement VII, I’ve switched my attention to another Vasari fresco in the same building (in the Hall of the Five Hundred); the Battle of Marciano, also known as the Battle of Scannagallo.
The fresco is probably more famous in recent times for its mention in the Dan Brown novel Inferno and the research carried out by a team led by Maurizio Seracini to discover a fresco painted by Leonardo said to be covered and protected by a wall on which Vasari painted the Battle of Marciano. Seracini’s research proved inconclusive and was halted by local authorities to avoid any damage to the Vasari fresco.
Seracini based his theory and investigation on a small detail in the Vasari fresco, a green flag bearing the words Cerca Trova, generally translated as “seek and you will find”. This led him to believe that Vasari had not painted directly over Leonardo’s fresco that depicted the battle of Anghiari, but had instead built a wall in front with a cavity behind. A cavity was discovered by Seracini but no proof of any lasting image of Leonardo’s fresco other that some residue fragments of white paint. Had Seracini been allowed to continue his research he may have indeed discovered more evidence.
My take on the green flag inscription is that it does refer to Leonardo’s fresco of the Battle of Anghiari. However, the flag’s cryptic message was also designed to alert observers to another conflict, an ongoing antagonism between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti.
My next few posts will deal with how Giorgio Vasari embedded references in his Marciano painting to the conflict between Leonardo and Michelangelo by recycling elements from the Battle of Anghiari ‘lost’ fresco.
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