Mona Lisa found in the raw

Mercury (Hobart) - - WORLD - JAMIE SEIDEL

IT’S an old char­coal sketch that has been sit­ting around in a pri­vate art col­lec­tion for more than 150 years.

But French art ex­perts re­cently got their hands on the early 16th cen­tury image of a top­less woman. And gave it a good, close look.

Long be­lieved to have been sketched by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s stu­dents, tests at the Lou­vre Mu­seum in Paris now in­di­cate the image is “at least in part” drawn by the fa­mous in­ven­tor and artist him­self.

And it’s likely to be of the fa­mous Mona Lisa.

“The draw­ing has a qual­ity in the way the face and hands are ren­dered that is truly re­mark­able,” cu­ra­tor Mathieu Deldicque told French me­dia.

But the rul­ing is based on more than a feel­ing.

Tell­tale sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween his fa­mous paint­ing and the sketch re­veal da Vinci’s hand.

The po­si­tion­ing of the hands and body are al­most an iden­ti­cal match. And the por­traits are al­most the ex­act same size.

Punc­ture marks about its edges also sug­gest it may have been placed on a can­vas for its out­line to be traced.

“It is not a pale copy,” Deldicque said. “We are look­ing at some­thing which was worked on in par­al­lel with the Mona Lisa at the end of Leonardo’s life. It is al­most cer­tainly a prepara­tory work for an oil paint­ing.”

The Mona Lisa was com­mis­sioned by a cloth mer­chant and of­fi­cial of Florence, Francesco del Gio­condo. It was to be a por­trait of his wife.

It be­came one of the world’s most recog­nis­able works of art.

But ex­perts re­main un­cer­tain about the ex­tent of da Vinci’s in­flu­ence on the top­less sketch. Some of the strokes ap­pear to have been done by a right-handed per­son. Da Vinci was left­handed.

“We must re­main pru­dent,” Deldicque said of on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “It is a job that is go­ing to take some time,” he said. “It is a very dif­fi­cult draw­ing to work on be­cause it is par­tic­u­larly frag­ile.” AFP

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