The Mona Lisa at the Prado in Madrid was thought to be just another fine copy, with added eyebrows and an odd black background. But curators at Spain’s national art museum yesterday announced a startling discovery: the painting was actually executed by an artist in Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop at the same time as the original.
It is the first known copy of the most famous painting in history, and a discovery that curators believe sheds new light on the creation of the masterpiece.
Deputy conservator, Gabriele Finaldi, said: “It’s as if we were standing in the workshop itself, and at the next easel. You can see that the artist was working step by step with Leonardo. When Leonardo made a change, he made a change.”
The copy sits in a dimly-lit room awaiting the finishing touches of a two-year restoration, during which its true origin was revealed. Curators decided it needed a face lift because it was going on loan to the Louvre in March. Following X-ray and infrared studies, they were surprised to find a landscape hidden beneath the dark paint behind the subject.
Conservators believe the artist could be Francesco Melzi, one of Leonardo’s favourite pupils. “When you look at the copy, you can imagine that this is what the Mona Lisa looked like in the 16th century,” Mr Finaldi continued. “It’s not just the details and the colour use. It has also been protected from light and dirt for centuries. So what you see if a very reliable appearance.”
Strange Random Mona Lisa Quote:
“Mona Lisa is the only beauty who went through history and retained her reputation.” – Will Rogers (American entertainer, famous for his pithy and homespun humour, 1879-1935)
- Mona Lisa copy was painted by Leonardo’s pupil (independent.co.uk)
- Mona Lisa Copy Shocks The Art World (huffingtonpost.com)
- Early Mona Lisa copy unveiled by Spain’s Prado Museum (cbc.ca)
- Mona Lisa Discovery of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- Earliest copy of Mona Lisa reveals her true looks (vancouversun.com)
- What a Real-Time Copy of the Mona Lisa Reveals About Leonardo (time.com)
- ‘Mona Lisa’ copy done hand in hand with da Vinci (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Painting Sheds New Light on the ‘Mona Lisa’ (npr.org)