Artifacts & Archeology

Groundbreaking study on Leonardo da Vinci’s red chalk drawing reveals the face of Federico da Montefeltro

By Mark Anderson and Annalisa Di Maria

The International Conference, Leonardo The Immortal Light, was a resounding success. This highly anticipated event took place at Palazzo Li Madou in Ancona, one of the offices of the Marche Region. It was a thrilling occasion that featured a study conducted on Leonardo da Vinci’s red chalk drawing, currently housed in the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. The research revealed that this sketch depicted the distinctive features of Federico da Montefeltro, the Captain General and Gonfalonier of the Pope, and Duke of Urbino.


The presentation of the research occurred during the 30th edition of the Leonardo The Immortal Light event, in collaboration with the International Committee Leonardo da Vinci, the Club for UNESCO of Florence, and with the patronage of the Italian Representation of the European Commission of the Regional Council of the Marches. This significant initiative was also supported by UNPLI of Ancona. The project aimed to delve into Leonardo da Vinci’s genius through scientific research, philosophy, and art. The Councilor for Culture of the Marche Region, Chiara Biondi, and the Regional Councilor, Giacomo Rossi, were present to extend their greetings on behalf of the institutions.

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The study was a collective effort, with each participant bringing their own expertise to tackle this complex research. Annalisa Di Maria, a renowned international art scholar and expert on Leonardo da Vinci and the Neoplatonic Renaissance, delivered a speech. A representative from the UNESCO Club of Florence elucidated the role of Neoplatonism during the Renaissance and its influence on the Montefeltro court, as well as its profound connection with Medici Florence. Andrea da Montefeltro, an international researcher, sculptor, and winner of the World Peace Prize in Art, also spoke. As a member of the UNESCO Club of Florence, he emphasized the crucial role of symbols and their utilization at the court of Federico, which underpinned even the most hidden meanings. The Forensic Calligraph Expert, Dr. Stefano Fortunati, President of the Autography Association – Certifying Calligraph Experts, contributed to the study by analyzing Leonardo’s handwriting and the artifact, providing invaluable insights into the calligraphy of this Tuscan genius.

Dr. Fabio Di Censo, an ophthalmologist and director of the ophthalmology operating unit in Sulmona, provided an anatomical study. His report confirmed that the subject depicted in the drawing exhibited a lack of the right eye, consistent with Frederick of Montefeltro. The event was moderated by Matteo Martinelli, Vice-President of UNPLI Pesaro and Urbino.


Within the event, the prestigious Leonardo International Award “The Immortal Light” was presented. Previous recipients of this national and international accolade include Scuderia Ferrari, the Monument Men Foundation, Nicola Piovani, Salvatore Ferragamo, Aboca, Brunello Cucinelli, as well as various national police forces and the Tuscany Region. The Marche Region was honored with a special prize for its significant contributions and solid commitment to culture, tourism, and sustainability. The prize, in this exceptional case, consisted of a monumental chessboard adorned with the coats of arms of Federico da Montefeltro. Additionally, the official casket commemorating the 600th Anniversary of the Duke was unveiled and presented to the Marche Regional Council. These works were created by the artist Andrea da Montefeltro. The celebrations culminated with a remarkable discovery, which integrated the Marches and the historic region of Montefeltro into the intricate and extraordinary world of the Tuscan master’s works.

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This event draws attention to the pressing need for a new humanism, emphasizing the importance of recognizing that a fusion of spiritual and intellectual achievements is essential for the cultural rebirth of our country. It also serves as a powerful reminder that the world is in need of new inspirations and a renewed focus on humanistic values. It is a call to acknowledge that only by combining our spiritual and intellectual endeavors can we propel projects that foster cultural revitalization. The time has come to embrace this union and move forward, guided by the profound legacy of Leonardo da Vinci.

The discoveries made during the conference shed light on the intricate details of Leonardo’s masterpiece, capturing the essence of Federico da Montefeltro in a sketch. This revelation not only deepens our understanding of both Leonardo’s artistic brilliance and Federico’s historical significance but also establishes a profound connection between the Marches and the esteemed legacy of the Tuscan master. The celebration of Federico’s anniversary, coupled with this newfound discovery, intertwines the Marches and the historic region of Montefeltro into the realm of Leonardo’s extraordinary works. This merging of cultural heritage enriches our appreciation for the interconnectedness of artistic genius, historical figures, and regional identity. Through this event, we are reminded that the pursuit of knowledge, artistic expression, and philosophical exploration is a timeless endeavor that transcends boundaries. It is a testament to the universal impact of Leonardo da Vinci’s legacy and the enduring relevance of his contributions to humanity.


As the conference concludes, its impact resonates beyond the confines of the event itself. It serves as a catalyst for further research, collaboration, and appreciation of Leonardo’s works, fostering a deeper understanding of his genius and its enduring influence on art, science, and philosophy. In the wake of this remarkable gathering, we are called upon to embrace the ideals of cultural rebirth, fostering a harmonious union of past and present, tradition and innovation. The legacy of Leonardo da Vinci, Federico da Montefeltro, and the vibrant Marche Region will continue to inspire generations to come, encouraging us to push the boundaries of knowledge, creativity, and human potential. Let us carry the torch of enlightenment ignited by this conference, illuminating our path towards a brighter future, where art, science, and philosophy converge to shape a more profound and harmonious society.

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Story submitted by Annalisa Di Maria. The World Art News (WAN) is not liable for the content of this publication. All statements and views expressed herein are only an opinion. Act at your own risk. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission. © The World Art News

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