Da Vinci art uncovered in Italian castle

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

da Vinci sketch
The unfinished work by Leonardo da Vinci shows roots breaking through rocks.

Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452 to 1519, was an Italian painter, musician, mathematician, inventor, scientist, writer, sculptor, building designer, mapmaker, and plant expert. You know… a super genius. He’s as famous for paintings like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, as for his futuristic designs of helicopters and parachutes (hundreds of years before they were actually made). Recently, some of his lost sketches have emerged from the walls of an Italian castle!

In the late 1400s, when da Vinci was the court artist for the duke of Milan, he painted a beautiful mural in the Sforza Castle. While this work is already known, a drawing was just uncovered beneath 17 layers of whitewash. Incredibly, it’s been out of sight for at least 500 years.

What’s especially amusing is that the fancy mural room, the Sala delle Asse (Room of the Planks), was once used as a stable for horses in the 1700s! When Austrians ruled Milan, the castle housed soldiers, and poor da Vinci’s art was covered in tons of whitewash. After all, it’s not like the horses or military men cared to look upon the lovely drawings.

The Florence institute in charge of restoring da Vinci’s works to their former glory, the Opificio Pietre Dure, says, “Large parts of this mural can be recovered beneath several layers of whitewash.” Marco Ciatti, who is the superintendent of the OPD art restoration institute, explains that they should be able to recover “important parts of the… drawings” and that their early study of the work has produced “quite interesting results.” Milan culture councillor Filippo Del Corno expressed, “This restoration is extremely important to fully understand Leonardo’s work. The project will last two years, ending just in time for the Milan’s Expo 2015.”

mural room
The newly uncovered sketches are in the corner of the Sala delle Asse.

So, what exactly is the newly discovered da Vinci illustration? Well, it’s a gnarly tree root poking through rocks. Okay, perhaps that’s not terribly exciting, but it’s by da Vinci! That makes it automatically cool in my book.

The sketch also goes well with the rest of the mural, which displays a garden of 16 mulberry trees tied together by a knotted golden rope. Each tree rises upwards in a column that supports 16 half-moon-shaped spaces, creating a mesmerizing scene.

This isn’t the only recently unearthed da Vinci art either, as earlier this month experts announced their discovery of a long-lost da Vinci portrait of noblewoman Isabella d’Este in a Swiss vault!

Featured image courtesy of Sumple on Wikipedia. Image of da Vinci sketch courtesy of Comune di Milano.