"UFOs in 15th century paintings"
By Richard Owen
December 04, 2002
ITALY'S Old Masters were recording flying saucers and UFOs in their
paintings as far back as the 15th century, according to a scientist
Roberto Volterri argues that artists dating back to 1406 included
evidence of "strange objects in the sky" for later generations to
see. He says that far from being the product of the paranoid Cold War
years, UFOs were documented but overlooked because they were often
extraneous to the subject of the painting and could only be explained
as "testimonials of something seen or heard about".
Volterri, 56, an archaeologist by training, specialises in the
measurement and analysis of metallic objects. He said he had spent
his working life in a thoroughly down-to-earth environment of cold
and rational calculation and sophisticated and precise instruments,
but he was convinced science did not have all the answers.
"I have been fascinated by the inexplicable since I was a boy," he
said. "Scientists tend to dismiss what cannot be rationally explained
as belonging to the realm of fantasy. But it is the job of science to
examine what seems mysterious, not to dismiss it out of hand."
He has published a book, As the Ancient Chronicles Relate, in which
he claims to show that past generations have also wondered whether
there is life beyond that on earth.
Perhaps the most striking example is The Madonna and St John,
attributed to Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-1469) and kept at the Palazzo
Vecchio in Florence. In it a man and a dog are clearly gazing up at a
UFO-type object behind the Virgin Mary's shoulder. No less baffling
is a painting by Masolino da Panicale (1383-1447), The Miracle of the
Snow, painted in 1429 and kept at the Capodimonte Museum in
Naples. "The painting shows a real event in Rome in the second half
of the fourth century AD," Volterri said. "But what are these
strange, dark, elongated clouds in the shape of UFOs?"
Volterri said he had compared these with photographs taken in 1955 in
Namur, Belgium, which purport to show cigar-shaped UFOs. By contrast,
Glorification of the Eucharist, by Bonaventura Salimbeni (1567-
1613), in the church of San Lorenzo in San Pietro, at Montalcino near
Siena, shows "what looks very like a satellite such as the Russian
Volterri said that in La Tebaide, by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475),
objects in the sky were identical to photographs taken of supposed
UFOs in the US in the 1950s and 6Os.
But Martin Kemp, professor of the History of Art at Oxford
University, said the "Renaissance UFOs" had a perfectly rational
"Many artists used their imaginations to represent celestial or
sacred powers," he said. "The objects in Masolino da Panicale's
painting were not UFOs at all but merely clouds schematised to fit in
with his perspective."