During the television program Ulysses which aired in Italy on Saturday the 28th of February, the well-known scientific divulgator Piero Angela stated that a secret drawing, a youthful self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, had just been discovered. Actually, the Leonardo3 ( http://www.leonardo3.net) research center in Milan, Italy, had published its own edition of the Codex of Flight (book interactive software) in the October of 2007: this work included the digital restoration of page 10, revealing the underlying portrait. The same center had also created a 3D reconstruction of the image.

At the beginning of 2007, within the Leonardo3 research center, Massimiliano Lisa (the center's President) had noted the resemblance between the Self-Portrait and the sanguine at page 10. An internal meeting with Edoardo Zanon (who edited the Codex of Flight) and Mario Taddei (both scientific curators for Leonardo3) brought up a series of questions and doubts - enough to discourage the center from divulging this discovery.

Credit must be given to Piero Angela and his team: they did a thorough job, and presented a high-quality program to the public. In any case, the actual drawing hidden inside the Codex of Flight is not this one, but another: a Flying Machine, never previously seen by anyone. It will be revealed for the first time during the exhibition Leonardo and Flight, which opens on the 4th of April at the Natural History of the Mediterranean Museum in Livorno, declared Massimiliano Lisa, from Leonardo3, before adding: Even though Piero Angela was the first to reveal it to the wider public, I still have the pleasure of knowing I had identified the Self-Portrait myself, two years ago.

leonardo da vinci codex of flight portrait

Edoardo Zanon, author of the Codex of Flight published by Leonardo3, stated: "There are no doubts that Piero Angela illustrated a compelling work, and for this he deserves many congratulations. It must be remembered, though, that research in this direction never reached any absolute certainty over the thesis presented, i.e. the resemblance between the Self-Portrait from Turin and the drawing hidden in the Codex of Flight. I have worked with this material (both the Codex and the Self-Portrait) for more than two years, and always resisted the temptation to disclose such a daring theory, Massimiliano Lisa's discovery notwithstanding. We were among the first to digitally restore the manuscript, an operation which brought into view not only this one, which is after all mentioned in every publication related to the Codex of Flight, but also other sanguine drawings present within the Codex. Still, I wish to underline the rigour of Piero Angela's thesis and research methods; after all, it is true that inside the Codex of Flight there are many secrets, some of which will be revealed on the 4th of April in Livorno, and then in September at the Leonardo's workshop exhibition in the Castle of Vigevano...."

Leonardo3 is licensing its digitally restored image of the young Da Vinci to museums and media worldwide. The presumed Self-Portrait is also part of the touring exhibition Codex of Flight of Leonardo3.