Leonardo and his secrets

Ultimo aggiornamento 6 July 2023

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, the Central Institute for the pathology of archives and books drafted the Leonardo Works Project with the intention of carrying out both traditional diagnostics and technologically advanced research relating to paper supports and mediations graphics, eventual restorations, verification of environmental parameters and evaluation of temporal and instrumental parameters for optimal programmed monitoring, drafting of a protocol for handling and displaying Leonardo da Vinci’s works on display. The studies, which began in March 2018 on the drawings and on the Code on the flight of birds, kept at the Royal Library of Turin, then continued on Leonardo’s drawings kept at the Central Institute for Graphics and on the Camaldoli Table depicting Leonardo, up to completely unknown to date. Here are the innovative data emerging from chemical, physical, biological, technological research and from multispectral acquisitions and from highly innovative analyzes such as the application of Nanopore sequencing technology, also called third generation sequencing, tested for the rapid diagnosis of biological infection in cultural heritage. The remarkable development of these techniques allows a DNA-based approach to the monitoring of artistic and cultural heritage. The biological information thus obtained can provide a set of reference data for future studies on the single object and create a bio-archive of its history. Throughout the duration of the project, a series of photographs were also taken using appropriate shooting techniques, combined with the use of sophisticated software and elaborate workflows (the “multishot images”). This set of methodologies, the so-called “Computational Photography”, the purpose of which is the creation of a “digital representation” of the subject capable of providing relevant information that cannot be traced in the individual shots, has made it possible to bring to light the alleged youthful self-portrait of Leonardo present in the Codex on the Flight of Birds .