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Posted October 15, 2012

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Maurizio Seracini: The secret lives of paintings

Art history is far from set in stone. Engineer Maurizio Seracini spent 30 years searching for Leonardo da Vinci’s lost fresco “The Battle of Anghiari,” and in the process discovered that many paintings have layers of history hidden underneath. Should they be part of the viewing experience too?

Maurizio Seracini uses advanced tools common in engineering and medical labs to unravel centuries-old mysteries of art.

It’s surprising to hear of a former engineer and medical student who has dedicated his career to the analysis of more than 2,500 works of art. But Maurizio Seracini is not your typical art connoisseur. He uses technologies from both of his worlds, such as multispectral imaging, sonogram and x-ray, to peer through the layers of paintings and reveal their secrets.

Most famous is Seracini’s more-than-30-year quest to find Leonardo Da Vinci’s missing painting The Battle of Anghiari. Seracini suspects the piece is behind another giant fresco painted by Giorgio Vasari in the Sala dei Cinquecento in Florence, Italy. To find it, Seracini must find a way to look beneath Vasari’s masterpiece while keeping it intact.

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