Da Vinci may have drawn ‘Nude Mona Lisa’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

PARIS — A nude draw­ing that bears a strik­ing re­sem­blance to Mona Lisa may have been done by Leonardo da Vinci, ex­perts said on Thurs­day.

Sci­en­tists at the Lou­vre in Paris, where his mas­ter­piece is dis­played, have been ex­am­in­ing a char­coal draw­ing known as the Monna Vanna which had been at­trib­uted to the Floren­tine mas­ter’s stu­dio.

The large draw­ing has been held since 1862 in the huge col­lec­tion of Re­nais­sance art at the Conde Mu­seum at Chateau de Chan­tilly, a palace north of the French cap­i­tal.

Cu­ra­tors from the mu­seum be­lieve that after a month of tests at the Lou­vre the “draw­ing is at least in part” by Leonardo.

“The draw­ing has a qual­ity in the way the face and hands are ren­dered that is truly re­mark­able. It is not a pale copy,” cu­ra­tor Mathieu Deldicque said.

“We are look­ing at some­thing which was worked on in par­al­lel with Mona Lisa at the end of Leonardo’s life,” he said.

“It is al­most cer­tainly a prepara­tory work for an oil paint­ing,” he added, with the ob­vi­ous in­fer­ence be­ing that it is closely con­nected to Mona Lisa.

The hands and body, Deldicque said, are al­most iden­ti­cal to Leonardo’s in­scrutable mas­ter­piece.

The draw­ing is al­most the same size as Mona Lisa, and small holes pierced around the fig­ure point to the fact it may have been used to trace its form onto a can­vas, he ar­gued.

Lou­vre con­ser­va­tion ex­pert Bruno Mot­tin con­firmed that the draw­ing dates from Leonardo’s life­time at the turn of the 15th cen­tury and that it was of a “very high qual­ity”.

Tests, he told the Parisien news­pa­per, had al­ready re­vealed that it was not a copy of a lost orig­i­nal.

But he said that “we must re­main pru­dent” about defini­tively at­tribut­ing it to Leonardo, who died in France in 1519.

“The hatch­ing on the top of the draw­ing near the head was done by a right-handed per­son. Leonardo drew with his left hand,” said Mot­tin.

“It is job that is go­ing to take some time. It is a very dif­fi­cult draw­ing to work on be­cause it is par­tic­u­larly frag­ile.”

But Mot­tin said that they hoped to pin down the iden­tity of the artist within two years, in time for an ex­hi­bi­tion at Chan­tilly to cel­e­brate the 500th an­niver­sary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.

More than 10 ex­perts have been por­ing over the draw­ing for the past few weeks, us­ing a va­ri­ety of scans and other sci­en­tific meth­ods.

Their in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been cen­tered on work­ing out if the draw­ing was made be­fore or after Mona Lisa, which was painted some­time after 1503.

The Chan­tilly draw­ing had orig­i­nally been at­trib­uted to the Tus­can mas­ter when it was bought by the Duc d’Au­male in 1862 for 7,000 francs, a sub­stan­tial sum at the time.

Around 20 paint­ings and draw­ings of nude Mona Lisas ex­ist in col­lec­tions across the world but most have proved very dif­fi­cult to date.

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