Researchers in Italy announced last week they discovered a second Leonardo da Vinci mural masterpiece.
According to Dave Mosher in a Monday, March 12, article for National Geographic News, “By poking high-tech instruments through the wall of one priceless 16th-century mural in Italy, researchers . . . think they’ve located the first ‘encouraging’ evidence . . . a lost Leonardo da Vinci . . . hidden beneath. Using a tiny camera, the researchers snapped pictures of a telltale hollow space behind Giorgio Vasari's “Battle of Marciano” — and a brick wall — in the Hall of the 500 in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence’s city hall. They also uncovered black pigment and lacquer used in painting — clues that the lost Leonardo may have long ago been saved from destruction.”
A mystery spanning four hundred years, the da Vinci masterpiece is called “The Battle of Anghiari.” Mosher reports the mural may be as large as 20 feet long and 10 feet tall, and was commissioned by an Italian statesman, Piero Soderini, in 1502. In the mural, Italian knights were to be shown defeating Milanese forces in 1440 on Tuscany's plain of Anghiari.
“Leonardo, it’s said, used the opportunity to experiment with a new oil-painting technique, but it ended in failure,” explained Mosher.
Sadly, hundreds of years doesn’t change much when it comes to losing art and information. I learned this as dusk ebbed across my writing room last week, while at the same time the blue screen of death emerged on the screen of my computer.
“Fatal system error,” the blazing white words flashed in a bizarre, electronic guffaw of light, signaling the impending death of my machine — and with it, my life.
I pressed all the function keys.
I scanned and re-scanned drives for errors, viruses and corruption.
I drove to the local Nerd Herd and watched them dismantle my drives, place them in other computers and diagnostic machines, insert and spit out various diagnostic CDs and DVDs. They had so much fun with the overwhelming level of my computer’s dysfunction they worked two full days until finally they announced, like surgeons emerging from a lifeless operating room, my computer was dead.
Not only was it dead, all information was irretrievable.
Even Jack Bauer couldn’t save me.
I sighed and cried, then — lamenting our society’s pathetic and utter dependence upon technology — spent my retirement on the latest and greatest, shiniest computer available, complete with external hard drive and virtual data saving device.
Despite several concerned offers from the Nerd Herd to come to my house and, for a small fee, set it up for me, I returned home to the connect everything, including the Internet, by myself.
Four hours later, I sat befuddled on a tiny folding chair, squashed between our water heater and HVAC system in our 4x4 pantry, staring at an open electrical panel and a mishmash of naked and quite frightening wires. Still, I pressed my way through countless automated customer service systems, talking to friendly representatives everywhere from India to Padme on the planet Tatooine.
Finally, one of my husband’s IT friends suggested I unplug everything and walk away.
So I did.
A couple hours later I returned, plugged everything in as specified by manuals, foreign and domestic representatives, replaced the cover on the electrical panel, and the whole system worked. Not only that, it blossomed, functioning in all its technological glory on every Wi-Fi capable device throughout the house. And slowly, I emerged from the fetal position I had assumed while realizing the amount of information and photographs I lost.
Now, my computer has not one, but three, back-up systems in place.
I discovered writing novels in longhand before transferring them to the computer is not vain after all.
And I learned the brain holds more memory than a hard drive can ever lose.
Which brings me back to da Vinci.
He tried something new.
It didn’t work out.
He painted over it.
Some of it was lost.
Still, centuries later, most of his art remains in plain view.
Appreciating and creating lasting beauty is tough in our heads-down, tech-driven society.
Hopefully, generations after us won’t have to poke holes through walls to find what we leave behind.
Amy Sorrells is a Zionsville resident and writer. Amy welcomes thoughts and ideas via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.