|Detail of the newly discovered and restored copy of the Mona Lisa|
A new twist to the never-ending saga of the Mona Lisa occurred earlier today when The Art Newspaper leaked that the Prado has discovered a copy of the Mona Lisa believed to have been painted alongside Leonardo himself. But who painted it?
"The Prado now believes its copy may be the work of one of Leonardo's two favorite pupils, either Giacomo Salai or Francesco Melzi", says the Guardian's Jonathan Jones.
The copy is revealing for reasons other than it's inherent artistic qualities. According to The Guardian, Leonardo "picked his pupils for their looks, not their talent. He delighted in Salai's curly locks, says Vasari, who also attests to the beauty of Melzi, even in old age. They were not gifted artists."
The copy does give us an insight into the Master's studio process as well as perhaps revealing what Lisa Del Giacondo actually looked like at the time Leonardo painted his portrait. Leonardo spent a few years tweaking and fiddling with his painting (which may allow for the confused reading of his intent), rendering it a little less than a faithful representation of his model. Leonardo's endless tinkering added about 20 years to the face of what would have been a young woman in her 20s.
There are numerous copies of the Mona Lisa painted after Leonardo's death (and many variations inspired by his masterpiece), but the shocking news that this copy is believed to have been made in the same room as Leonardo, even as Lisa Del Giacondo was posing for the Master, has astonished the art world. The Prado's experts made their verdict upon removal of the black paint that obscured a Tuscan landscape.
The copy is undergoing a final clean before the Prado plans to send it on tour, beginning with the Louvre in March.
|Spot The Differences: The real Mona Lisa (left) next to the newly discovered copy (right)|
|Restorers worked hard to remove a thick black paint from the background of the copy|
|Prado employees next to the restored copy of Mona Lisa|
|Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci|
|Maddalena Doni, by Raphael|
|Étude de mains, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres