Is the portrait of Lecco by Leonardo? X-rays to solve the mystery

Thanks to the collaboration of Gilardoni, new analyzes on optimistic signs

Meanwhile, the study of Professor Rolando Bellini, who has been investigating the work for a year, continues

LECCO – The Portrait of Lecco and from Leonardo da Vinci† Hard to say exactly, but there Gallo-Mazzoleni familyowner of the “mysterious work”, continues the investigation into the optimistic drawing renamed Portrait of Lecco which, probably, could be attributed to the Tuscan genius. After a in-depth study on paper leading to the belief that the design dates back to the mid-15th century, another step forward has been taken in recent days.

The analysis phase

Thanks to a collaboration with Gilardoni X-rayswell-known company of mandelloWednesday, April 13, the work was the subject of a complex analysis made possible by the latest generation of machines for which the company Lecco is a world leader. On the drawing, in fact, some microfocus tomographic and radioscopic analyzes with multi-energy technique† But that’s not all, because the tests have a besnate (VA) at Eidosolutions (company acquired by Gilardoni Spa in November 2018) of the department research and studies for non-destructive testing applied to artwas an opportunity to Professor Rolando Belliniprofessor of art history, graphic arts, museology and aesthetics at theBrera Academy of Fine Arts in Milanand art history atFlorence International University of Art, who has been studying opera for a year now. But let’s go in order.

Massimo Mazzoleni with his wife Silvia Gallo, in the middle Professor Rolando Bellini

Tomography on possible drawing by Leonardo

Gilardoni Raggi X turns 75 this year. It was founded in 1947 by Arturo Gilardonia a scientist in the field of radiology, a new technique at the time. Arturo Gilardoni’s adventure expands and during the economic boom, the X-ray technique finds application in various fields, accompanying the development and needs of society and the world – explains General Manager Davide Baratto † Especially in the 1970s, Gilardoni became passionate about applications in field of cultural heritage make analyzes of very important paintings, mummies and various finds. Over the years, Gilardoni has developed specific systems for works of art, something unique in the world.”

Gilardoni X-rays General Manager Davide Baratto
Gilardoni X-rays General Manager Davide Baratto

Since then, technology has made great strides and today Gilardoni X-rays can rely on the latest generation of techniques to understand what Leonardo’s alleged drawing can tell us: “In fact, we went a tomography, a Tac, but also a whole series of innovative techniques (revolutionary in the artistic field) such as multi-energetic analysis. Last March we were onInternational Atomic Energy Agency, members of a table for the definition of content for the training and certification of people who, in the field of cultural heritage, want to apply radiological techniques for analysis. In fact, we are working to create a path for the training of these new professional figures”.

Gilardoni, the only Italian company for the production of systems for non-destructive testing, learns of the portrait of Lecco and decides to make itself available: “We are a company closely linked to our territory and we have become aware of this work, that’s why we proposed to the owners to take advantage of our technology to understand if it can support the numerous analyzes and studies already being carried out. The hope is to find elements that can strengthen the hypothesis that Leonardo’s hand really exists. Specifically, we went for a tomography, which is a three-dimensional X-ray reconstruction using a microfocus tomograph. For X-rays, it is the most in-depth study possible, a revolutionary approach because I believe that such an analysis has never been done on such a finding. Usually radiographic plates are made, here we are talking about digital, three-dimensional technologies and we will also experiment with multi-energy analyses”.

The drawing was exposed to X-rays for acquired images (more than a thousand) at different angles to reconstruct the three-dimensional image. We work at very high resolution with many projections, the acquisition phase alone takes about an hour and a half: “It’s a challenge for us too: we’ve never done it before and we’re happy to try it”.

The study of Professor Rolando Bellini

Rolando Bellinia well-known academic, is professor of art history, graphic arts, museology and aesthetics at theBrera Academy of Fine Arts in Milanand art history atFlorence International University of Art† He specializes in Michelangelo and is equally interested in Leonardo. His studies are focused on examining the links between art and science in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, particularly during his stay in Lombardy. As an art critic he has collaborated with numerous galleries and art studios.

Professor Rolando Bellini

He’s been there for over a year now in-depth study on the Portrait of Lecco to understand whether it can indeed be attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci. He also wanted to visit Gilardoni’s X-ray department in charge of the analyses: “We certainly hope that these further analyzes will allow us to broaden our view of this work, allowing us to discover some indirect elements – explained Professor Bellini -. We haven’t come to any conclusions yet because otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Certainly, we are about to say that there is a find that has its own quality and its own identity. We analyzed it by forgetting all the attributions as much as possible, since it was ‘just’ a nice drawing. We analyzed what it represents, what it is, what period it is, what material it is … Then we turned the telescope upside down and wondered who the most likely element is: it is the Leonardesque area

When it comes to the Leonardesque area, the road immediately goes uphill: “We work with caution, especially since in my particular case it would be the second drawing I find of Leonardo, so we proceed very calmly. From a scholar’s point of view it is not so relevant to say ‘is’, but rather to say ‘why it is’ or ‘why it could be’ and what leads to knowledge of the character involved. We are certainly in Leonardo’s circle, this is certain and also confirmed by other scholars† However, before throwing a hypothesis there, I wanted to go down a different path and finally came to the conclusion that once we’re in that area, we need to come up with a name. The problem is this: which name is more plausible and how do I suggest it? This plausibility is obtained through solutions that have to come from work”.

The knot is not easy to solve and the aspects to consider are many and very thorough: “It is not an easy study, but it is fascinating. It is a beautiful journey and somehow corresponds to the meaning that Leonardo himself attributes to the journey. You have to think about turning all the pages of the history book and discovering the complexity: this is Leonardo, that’s why he’s so fascinating. Now let’s see how it goes with the Portrait of Lecco: it is a drawing that has suffered, there is an opacity of reading. However, it is a design that has also been mistreated by history it’s such a special design that it inevitably raises questions† It’s all in determining how far one can approach the drawings irrefutably assigned to Leonardo’s hand… we’ll see. Thanks to these new analyses, we may be able to see something that we haven’t seen before that the human eye can’t. Even a denial can tell us a lot: whether there’s visual evidence or not, it’s always a valid answer for me. The paradigm changes, but the path does not change”.

Massimo Mazzolenic

Portrait of Lecco, a drawing studied since 2019

The Portrait of Lecconow since 2019, is owned by Gallo-Mazzoleni family which it acquired through the acquisition of a private individual. Since then, in-depth studies have begun on this optimistic design that have gone in all directions, until in recent days the collaboration with the Gilardoni X-rays by mandello

“We became aware of this possibility thanks to Mr. Gianmario Maver that for more than 30 years worked at Gilardoni X-rays – he explained Massimo Mazzolenic – For the Mandello-based company it is certainly an interesting experiment, for us of course the opportunity to take another step forward in knowing this design. There is certainly still a lot to work on and a lot to discover, I believe we are just at the beginning of a journey made up of years of study, evaluations and, why not, even conflicting opinions. The fact that emerges, also through the Ministry of Cultural Heritage after the studies carried out so far, it is that this drawing by an unknown author is of Leonardeke size. It remains to be seen whether it is due to Leonardo Da Vinci. I am also very happy with the collaboration with Professor Bellini who has been working on this design for a year now.”

Leave a Comment