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The hidden room where Leonardo da Vinci might have begun painting the Mona Lisa has been discovered in an old friary in the heart of Florence, a team of researchers from Italy's Military Geographical Institute announced at a press conference this week. Hidden in a part of a building that once belonged to the friary of the Santissima Annunziata and was later taken over by the Military Geographical Institute, the workshop contains frescoes containing "impressive associations" with other examples of Leonardo's work, according to Alessandro del Meglio, Roberto Manescalchi and Maria Carchio, the researchers who made the discovery. "The workshop has been long sought. It was always there, all we had to do was look," Manescalchi said. A painter, engineer, mathematician, philosopher and naturalist, Leonardo returned to Florence at the age of 48. He had spent his early years there, but then lived for 17 years in Milan at the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza, who fell from power in 1499. It was in that period that he used the rooms in the monastery as a residence and workshop. "Various historic sources, such as the 16th-century book, 'Lives of the Artists' by the artist and art historian Giorgio Vasari, tell us that Leonardo stayed at the Santissima Annunziata monastery," Manescalchi said. "At that time, the monks from the order of the Servi di Maria (the Servants of Mary) set aside some rooms to rent them as guest rooms to notable figures. For example, we know for sure that Andrea del Sarto, one of the leading Florentine painters of the generation after Leonardo's, had stayed in the same lodgings," he said. The researchers found the rooms in the interconnecting spaces of the monastery and the military institute. Manescalchi and colleagues first discovered a staircase dating back to 1430, most likely the work of the Florentine sculptor and architect Michelozzo di Bartolommeo. The staircase led to five rooms used by Leonardo and his pupils. "The largest room, featuring two windows, was Leonardo's bedroom. He was given the best accommodation as he was already very famous. Leonardo was also given the adjoining room a sort of secret room in which he carried his experiments. "The remaining rooms were used as a workshop by Leonardo and his pupils, five or six at least. Most probably, there was also a cook," Manescalchi said. Ideal Location The location was ideal for the Renaissance genius. The monastery's library had a collection of 5,000 codex, which attracted Leonardo. It was also very close to the Santa Maria Nuova hospital where he dissected more than 30 cadavers for his anatomy studies.
It was right at the monastery that he might have met Lisa Gherardini, the original Mona Lisa, who he painted between 1500 and 1504. She was the wife of the wealthy silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, whose family had a chapel in Santissima Annunziata "He might have begun painting Mona Lisa in this workshop. among working on other things. We know that while at Santissima Annunziata, Leonardo worked on The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, painted Madonna of the Yarnwinder, and drew studies of birds in flight," Manescalchi said. Among the frescoes uncovered on one of the walls are images of birds and what appears to have been a madonna with an angel, now lost. Although the frescoes may have been painted by a pupil rather than Leonardo himself, Manescalchi said they clearly reflected the master's own studies. Computer comparisons showed striking resemblances to the birds drawn by Leonardo in the Codex Atlanticus and to the angel of the Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery, attributed to Leonardo. According to Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale in the Tuscan town of Vinci, where the artist was born the illegitimate child of a Florentine notary and a peasant girl in 1452, "there is no doubt that the researchers found Leonardo's workshop." "This is an important discovery, as it opens up new perspectives for studies and hypothesis on the Florentine context in which Leonardo worked," Vezzosi told Discovery News.
The Monestary This is the cloister of the Santissima Annunziata monastery, where Leonardo da Vinci is thought to have held private rooms.
Layout of the Rooms Above is the workshop's plan. Room B was Leonardo's bedroom. Room A was Leonardo's secret room (accessible only from room B). Room E was probably the room of Francesco Melzi, Leonardo's favourite pupil. Rooms D and C were used by Leonardo's other pupils.
Bird from a Fresco It's thought that Leonardo, or one of his students, drew this bird in one of the discovered frescoes. In the box below is a bird drawn by Leonardo in the Codex Atlanticus for comparison.
Secret Stairwell This is the staircase with the frescoes of the erased angel.
Another Da Vinci-Type Bird Above is another bird from the discovered frescoes. In the box below is a bird drawn by Leonardo in the codex on the flight of birds.
Copyright: This article and images were taken from Discovery Channel website. The article was taken from here: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20050117/leonardo.html Compiled to PDF Format by Horus (http://www.lightofisis.com)