Florence cathedral. Photo: Nina Heyn
By Nina Heyn – Your Culture Scout
In 1504, when Leonardo da Vinci was mostly done with living in Florence, he accepted an important commission to decorate Palazzo Vecchio (which served as the meeting hall for the Florentine Grand Council) with a fresco depicting the historic Battle of Anghiari fought in 1440. The Council also commissioned Michelangelo to decorate the opposite wall with a fresco of the 1364 Battle of Cascina. As fate would have it, neither of these assignments ended up being completed. Michelangelo had barely made a preparatory cartoon when he was summoned to Rome to work on the tomb of the new pope, Julius II. Da Vinci worked on the Anghiari project for about two years, experimenting with wax paints under oil, but after the paint streaked from the candle heat, he abandoned the ruined project. Thanks to other artists’ copies and drawings based on da Vinci’s studies for his Battle of Anghiari (with the most famous one being by Rubens), we know what da Vinci’s fresco was supposed to look like, but the actual design is not there. Or is it?