ROME (Reuters) - A forgotten workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, complete with 500-year-old frescos and a secret room to dissect human cadavers, has been discovered in Florence, Italy, researchers said on Tuesday.
The find was made in part of the Santissima Annunziata convent, which let out rooms to artists centuries ago and where the likely muse of the Renaissance artist's masterwork, the Mona Lisa, may have worshipped.
"It's a bit absurd to think that, in 2005, we have found the studio of one of history's greatest artists. But that is what has happened," said Roberto Manescalchi, one of three researchers credited for this month's discovery.
"The proof is on the walls."
Frescos adorning part of the workshop were left undisturbed over the centuries and gradually forgotten. The wing of the convent was eventually split by a wall and is partially claimed today by the Institute of Military Geography.
In a slide-show presentation to media, Manescalchi pointed to one colorful fresco with a character conspicuously missing from the foreground.
The white silhouette bore a striking resemblance to da Vinci's painting of the archangel Gabriel, who appears in his "Annunciation" hanging in Florence's Uffizi gallery.
Manescalchi, who refers to the silhouette as "The Ghost," told reporters it was not clear to him whether the angel was removed or perhaps never completed.
The walls were also adorned with paintings of birds, one of which strongly resembled a sketch from da Vinci's "Atlantic Codex," a 1,286-page collection of drawings and writings by the painter, sculptor, inventor and scientist.
Another painting was similar to a drawing in da Vinci's codex on the flight of birds.
Manescalchi speculated that da Vinci had assistants in his workshop and probably used a "secret" corner room for his dissections of human corpses, aimed at improving his understanding of anatomy.
While some experts have cautioned that it is still too early to say Manescalchi has found da Vinci's studio, the researcher, who made the discovery earlier this month, was convinced further research would back up his claims.
"It's easy to say 'It's not true'," he said.
"I didn't paint the Angel's ghost."
The find has sparked speculation that while da Vinci was using the workshop, he might have met the probable model for the Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine merchant whose family had a chapel in the Santissima Annunziata.
Da Vinci is thought to have painted the Mona Lisa after he presumably left the convent, but Manescalchi said he was reviewing documents for evidence that the two met during his stay there from 1501 to 1502.
"We are researching," he said, adding that thousands of da Vinci's papers were still missing.
I admire Da Vinci not for his art but for his sketches.
I admire him, and pity him, for the loneliness his genius brought him. Here is a man who excelled in ALL areas he applied himself to. But he was an outsider because of how he viewed the popular intelligence dogma of his time. So he was a social outcast for much of his life, certainly a scientific one.
And the kicker is he considered himself a failure. This genius, a failure. Because he could not find the material means to realize his designs, to bring them to life, specifically, powered-flight.
The legacy Da Vinci left us is only the tip of the iceberg, he left so many projects unfinished, so many problems he solved and then moved on without implementing, without even fully documenting.
Sorry to ramble...it's a sad topic to me. If this is his workshop, it's great from a historical perspective, and maybe it will make a nice little museum, but it is still an empty house.
But intergamer, I'm not trying to detract from your opinion - in fact I think you have hit on his truest form of communication - his wonderful ability to document thought and form in pencil and charcoal. It was his common language in his art, his science, his anatomy...wonderful stuff.
His drawings were considered medical reference for quite a bit of time, as a matter in fact. I have forgotten the details, but if someone is interested I can look up a good text I read last year, a collection of his writings from several journals. Interesting and tragic.
(Don't even get me started on Van Gogh. )
Just to TRY to get a bit back OT here...
...wouldn't it be Indy-ishly interesting if they uncovered something about La Machina Del Oro sealed in a wall of this workshop?
Last edited by Indy Jerry : 02-22-2005 at 02:56 AM.
Location: Neuch‚tel, Switzerland (Canadian from Montreal)
An Earlier "Mona Lisa" by Da Vinci?
I know there is another Mona Lisa painted by one of Da Vinci's students but, apparently, there is yet another, earlier one painted by Leonardo, himself, which was unveiled in Switzerland yesterday. Much controversy surrounds its authenticity:
Someone on the Making Indy podcast mentioned Davinci's Madrid Codex, discovered in 1964 by a University of Massachusetts professor. The Indy 5 discussion of the codices led to alchemy, already featured in Hudson Hawk.