Da Vinci Detective, The (DVD Review)16 Aug, 2009 By: Eui-jo Marquez
In this two-part documentary, art diagnostician Maurizio Seracini investigates the mysteries behind two works of artist Leonardo da Vinci.
Seracini is originally from Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance art, so it’s natural that art is in his blood. He moved to California to study engineering and was able to combine his two passions. He adapted tools of science, such as thermographics, ultrasound, radar, sonar, infrared and lasers, to the field of art. This modern approach did not please art historians, who he says are stuck in the past.
But Seracini believed da Vinci would have approved of his methods. Seracini too is a Renaissance man, melding the worlds of art and science. This documentary shows the struggle Seracini went through with art historians who called him a maverick at best and a fraud at worst.
Seracini uses his unwavering determination and bag of tricks to first find the missing da Vinci mural “The Battle of Anghiari,” which had been lost for 500 years.
In the second part of the documentary, Seracini discovers da Vinci’s “Adoration of the Magi” was not actually completed by da Vinci. Through detective methods that would impress Sherlock Holmes, Seracini finds the truth, turning the art history world upside down.
The documentary compiles beautiful footage of Florence, interviews with Seracini and computer-generated shots of his technology at work. It is a bit dramatic at times, with too many scenes of Seracini staring up at the walls of the Great Hall in the Palazzo Vecchio, pensively rubbing his chin. Still, art lovers and intellectuals will find the mysteries fascinating.