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Finding fresco: Hidden wall may hold clues to lost da Vinci masterpiece

The "Salone dei Cinquecento", in Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.
Photo by Eusebius@Commons via Flickr Creative Commons

UC San Diego researchers may be one stroke closer to getting their mitts on a missing Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, they announced Monday. 

For decades, researcher and professor, Maurizio Seracini, has been playing hide and seek (mostly seek) with the lost Leonardo fresco, “The Battle For Anghiari.”  

Last year, his research team, sponsored by UCSD and The National Geographic Society, discovered a hidden stone wall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio and caused a controversy by drilling into another painting to access it.

Using laser and radar to survey the hall, Seracini found gaps behind a Giorgio Vasari fresco. He believes Vasari's fresco was built on a wall constructed to protect da Vinci's unfinished piece. "Seracini also discovered a telling clue: Vasari included a soldier in the fresco who holds a flag that reads, 'He who seeks, finds,'" notes ABC News.

According to the new findings, the samples, analyzed in a private lab, appear to contain the same black pigment used by the Renaissance master. “The evidence does suggest we are searching in the right place,” said Maurizio Seracini, the L.A. Times reported.

Red and beige samples were also found in the samples. Those materials, believed to have been applied by brushstroke, would also be consistent with the famed fresco.

European and U.S. experts have criticized Seracini for damaging Vasari artwork on his quest to find the fresco. An Italian art historian has launched a petition to stop him from continuing the work and say the results need to be independently verified.