Lost Masterpieces

In the early 1500s, Michelangelo and Leonardo were commissioned to paint frescoes in the same place, just feet across from each other in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. The two masters both chose great historical battles and executed “cartoons” or drawings that went on display  for a short time in the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo in the place where the frescoes would be done.

The drawings themselves are lost, what you see above is copies from copies. If you look through the two masters sketches that survive you will find bits and pieces of each of these. Leonardo loved horses and used them in his composition, where as Michelangelo’s is a tribute the male form.

Michelangelo had just started the fresco painting, but then away to Rome to work for the Pope. At the time this drawing was so revered that artists came from all over to copy it. It was said that whatever an artist needed to learn, he could get from this one masterpiece. It was later cut up by a jealous fellow artist.

Leonardo did his fresco, but was not comfortable with the medium. He tried to speed up the drying time and ended up destroying his own work; the top half of the painted melted after he added wax to the paint and tried to heat it to dry. He abandoned the project.

Giorgio Vasari, a biographer of the great artists and great artist himself was commissioned to cover the wall. He did… but rumors still abound as to whether he actually destroyed the work of DaVinci or covered it without damaging it. I like to think it’s there, waiting for someone to find a way to show it to the world.

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