Mona Lisa un­veiled? Nude sketch may have link to mas­ter­piece

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ni­cholas Gar­riga

PARIS — There’s somet hing vaguely f amil­iar about this char­coal sketch of a woman’s face and nude torso — could it be an un­clothed pre­cur­sor to the Mona Lisa by the mas­ter him­self?

French gov­ern­ment art ex­perts are try­ing to find out, an­a­lyz­ing the sketch in a lab­o­ra­tory be­neath the Lou­vre, the mu­seum where the Mona Lisa hangs, to see if Leonardo da Vinci drew it be­fore paint­ing his 16th cen­tury mas­ter­piece.

The sketch, pre­vi­ously at­trib­uted to Leonardo’s stu­dents, is part of a col­lec­tion at the Musee Conde du Do­maine de Chan­tilly, north of Paris.

“This draw­ing is quite mys­te­ri­ous be­cause we know it was made in Italy, maybe in the stu­dio of Leonardo da Vinci or by the mas­ter him­self,” said mu­seum cu­ra­tor Mathieu Deldicque.

There are tempt­ing clues that Leonardo’s hand could have been be­hind the sketch.

“For the mo­ment we know that the pa­per on which this ( sketch) is drawn was dated from the time of Leonardo da Vinci ... that is to say the be­gin­ning of the 16th cen­tury,” Deldicque said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press. “We know that this pa­per comes from Italy, be­tween Venice and Florence, so it is sim­i­lar.”

Im­agery picked up other signs that may point to a sketch by Leonardo de­spite its “very worn el­e­ments,” he said, not­ing the “qual­ity” of the face and arms, which re­calls the mas­ter.

“The po­si­tion of the arms is very im­por­tant be­cause it is lit­er­ally (like) the po­si­tion of the arms of the Lou­vre paint­ing,” Deldicque said.

How­ever, Deldicque has said there were dif­fer­ences, in­clud­ing the way the subject holds her chest and the hair­style.

Art his­to­ri­ans be­lieve Leonardo drew or painted a nude ver­sion of the Mona Lisa. Deldicque ac­knowl­edged that the be­lief is feed­ing hopes that the Chan­tilly mu­seum’s sketch was in­deed made by Leonardo’s hand.

Among the ar­ray of clues un­der study i s whether the artist of the sketch was left-handed.

“We know that Leonardo da Vinci was left­handed and now we are just look­ing for the left­handed fea­tures,” the cu­ra­tor said. But the task is dif­fi­cult. “The draw­ing is very old, very frag­ile,” he said, mak­ing it un­cer­tain firm ev­i­dence will be un­cov­ered show­ing that the char­coal nude was sketched with a left hand.

The gov­ern­ment- run Cen­ter for Re­search and Restora­tion of the Mu­se­ums of France says the sketch will stay out of the pub­lic eye un­til the ex­am­i­na­tion by ex­perts is com­plete.

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