Team seeks to finally solve mystery of Da Vinci mural hidden behind wall using gamma ray camera

September 7, 2011 by Bob Yirka report
Team seeks to finally solve mystery of Da Vinci mural hidden behind wall using gamma ray camera

( -- A trio of players now invested in not only finding out if Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous lost mural “Battle of Anghiari” is where they think it is, but also in trying to take a picture of it, has posted a project on KickStarter asking for contributions to help in the effort.

Da Vinci’s mural was believed to have been painted on a wall in what is known as the Hall of Five Hundred, in Florence, Italy, a local government headquarters. The work was subsequently covered or destroyed when a later regime came into office and commissioned artist Giorgio Vasari to create a fresco to replace Da Vinci’s work. But Maurizio Seracini, a professor from the University of California, doesn’t think Vasari ruined Da Vinci’s mural. Instead, after extensive research, he’s come to believe a wall was built directly in front of the wall that had the Battle of Anghiari on it, with some space between it to keep it from harm. Unfortunately however, there has been no way to prove it.

In a fortuitous turn of events, Seracini happened to meet photographer David Yoder, who just happened to shoot for major publications such as the New York Times, and more importantly, National Geographic Magazine (who is now helping fund the project). After working together on ideas for ways to find out once and for all if Da Vinci’s mural was indeed where Seracini thought it was, Yoder met up with the third party to their consortium; Dr. Robert Smither, a physicist with Argonne National Laboratory, who has been working on a kind of gamma ray camera to be used for creating images of tumors in cancer patients. He thought the same technology might be used to create an actual image of the mural behind the wall, if it was indeed there.

The camera, if it can be built, must be portable so it can be transported to the site, and once there would work by sending neutrons through the first wall which would then hit the metals contained in the oil based paint that is believed to have used, on the wall behind. Those metals would then emit gamma rays which could be captured using copper crystals to form an image. Thus, the “camera” would not actually have a glass lens at all. In testing done at an Italian research center, it appears the technology would work as predicted, but, there’s still one more problem, the lack of funds, hence the posting on Kickstarter. So far the team has collected $21,514 of the $265,000 needed with just 33 days to go.

Explore further: Study: Mona Lisa neither man nor da Vinci

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1.9 / 5 (9) Sep 07, 2011
this guy wants 225 grand for this project, what a scam. take a brick out , see what you can see, confirm or reject suspicions, and put that brick back and repair the fresco. and that's the end of it. you pay the museum 20,000 grand costs for your trouble.

225 grand ???? to do what? confirm there is a painting behind a painting and that you need to destory the entire front painting if you are ever again to see the back one with human eyes?
what a scam. money will be stolen for sure.
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 07, 2011
take a brick out , see what you can see, confirm or reject suspicions, and put that brick back and repair the fresco.

Are you mad?
1 / 5 (2) Sep 08, 2011
gamma ray beam sounds like overkill, also wouldnt there be some change the gamma rays could damage the painting (by heating)?
I reckon someone should knock on the fresco with a flashlight to see if it sounds hollow :)
Surely there could be some sort of ultrasound/infrasound approach used, like the thing they used in Jurassic Park (opening scene)to take photos of the velociraptor.
2 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2011
Leonardo was an interesting character. We have only a dozen paintings attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, and three of those, including the Mona Lisa, St. John, and Madonna and Child with St Anne, were in his posession when he died in France whle residing there as the guest of the French king, Frances I, which is why they are hanging in a French museum.

We do know that Leonardo and Michelangelo, a contemporary, were commisioned to paint scenes of epic battles on opposing walls in the then newly built town hall of Florence.

Leonardo was an experimenter - he actually invented the oil pastel - but his experiments with paints and finishes quite often proved impractical, often leading to early deterioration and the ultimate ruin of many of his works. It is thought that his fresco in the town hall of Florence met a similar fate, which is why it was painted over.
2 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2011
PhysOrg seems to be KickStarter mouthpiece
not rated yet Sep 08, 2011
Sounds worthwhile to rediscover the "lost Leonardo". Wouldn't it be similarly wonderful to find a lost symphony of Beethoven or play of Shakespeare or Euripides? The works of the geniuses of our species expand for all of us the sense of who we are at our best. They are utterances we can all take pride in. Jeez, the things I waste dough on...put me down for $10 for crying out loud...
not rated yet Sep 09, 2011
i think to find out actual painting will b real tough..........well best of luck

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