Lost da Vinci artwork found in walls of Italian castle

Restoration work may be able to bring to light extra sections of the original work.

Written by PTI | Washington | Published: October 29, 2013 3:55 pm

Researchers have discovered new sections of artwork in a 15th century mural sketched by Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci,hidden under layers of whitewash in the walls of an Italian castle.

The mural covers the vault and walls of the Sala delle Asse or Room of the Planks in the Sforza Castle in Milan.

Restoration work on the Sala delle Asse has unveiled extra sections of the original work which depicts a garden pergola made of 16 mulberry trees bound together by a golden,knotted rope.

Experts agree the master’s hand can be detected in a monochrome section of the fresco,on the northeast and northwest corner of the room,depicting a huge tree root,stuck in rock.

The work is part of the tree-filled decoration that was commissioned in 1498 by the duke of Milan,Ludovico Maria Sforza,nicknamed il Moro (the Moor) and was executed by Leonardo,who at that time was the court artist,and his assistants,’Discovery News’ reported.

“Large parts of this mural can be recovered beneath several layers of whitewash,” the Opificio Pietre Dure (OPD) the Florence based institute which is carrying out the restoration,wrote in a report.

Preliminary analysis produced “quite interesting results,” lending hope that the work will recover “important parts of the preparatory drawings,” Marco Ciatti,superintendent of the OPD art restoration institute,said.

It is possible that the mural was left incomplete as Milan was conquered by the French who stormed the castle in 1499.

In 1706,when Milan was under the Austrian rule,the castle became soldier barracks and the Sala delle Asse was turned into a stable,its walls covered with abundant layers of whitewash.

The decoration remained hidden beneath up to 13 layers of paint until 1893,when renovations to the castle revealed traces of frescoes.

In 1901,amid much criticism,the mural was heavily restored. Only in 1954,the paint applied during the disastrous restoration was finally removed.

The restoration work may be able to bring to light extra sections of the original work,possibly providing further insights into da Vinci’s vision of the highly symbolic decoration.

“This restoration is extremely important to fully understand Leonardo’s work,” Milan culture councillor Filippo Del Corno said.

“The project will last two years,ending just in time for the Milan’s Expo 2015,” he added.

The restoration comes after a da Vinci masterpiece was recently unearthed in a Swiss bank vault. The portrait of Italian noblewoman,Isabella d’Este,was discovered as part of a private collection in a Swiss bank.

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