The Annunciation - Recreating the Restored

The Annunciation is an unusual item in Leonardo’s oeuvre. Unlike many of his paintings that were unfinished, the artist is believed to have worked on The Annunciation from its initiation through to its completion. However, the painting is not entirely in his hand. Diagnostic surveys of this painting offer the rare opportunity to construct a detailed understanding of the unfolding composition process of this masterpiece.

Although Leonardo was involved in every stage of its creation, The Annunciation was originally the commission of his teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio (c.1435–1488). Verrocchio had quickly realised the genius of his young student - an oft-related story attributed to Vasari, although probably apocryphal, tells of Verrocchio being so astonished by his student’s painting of an angel’s wings that he never picked up a paintbrush again. Verrocchio allowed Leonardo considerable autonomy in the painting’s creation, which has afforded art historians the chance to view the unfolding creative processes of the young Leonardo.

However, over the centuries, this much-loved painting has been subjected to multiple restoration attempts of varying orders of success. Transcending these efforts required the utilisation of advanced diagnostic imaging technologies, a specialisation of Dr Seracini and his company, Editech. Dr Seracini scanned the painting at various wavelengths of light to assess its state of conservation and uncover the artist's initial sketches beneath the paint.