New Insight into the Mona Lisa

As I am typing this I am watching some of the live streaming of the Christie's Evening IMP/MOD sale.  Some of the early lots appear to be doing well against the pre sale estimates.  More after the sale and when the results are posted.

The Art Newspaper recently ran an interesting article on a replica of the Mona Lisa originally thought to be painted after Leonardo's death by one of his important pupils.  New scholarship now shows the painting may actually have been painted "alongside the master".

The painting is being restored at the Prado in Madrid.  The copy was originally thought to be on oak rarely used in Italy at the time, but new evidence shows it is actually walnut which lends itself to Italy of the period. As overpaint is being removed it appears that Mona Lisa is actually younger than was originally thought (see image).

The Art Newspaper reports

Conservators at the Prado in Madrid recently made an astonishing discovery, hidden beneath black overpaint. What was assumed to be a replica of the Mona Lisa made after Leonardo’s death had actually been painted by one of his key pupils, working alongside the master. The picture is more than just a studio copy—it changed as Leonardo developed his original composition.

The final traces of overpaint are now being removed by Prado conservators, revealing the fine details of the delicate Tuscan landscape, which mirrors the background of Leonardo’s masterpiece. Darkened varnish is also being painstakingly stripped away from the face of the Mona Lisa, giving a much more vivid impression of her enticing eyes and enigmatic smile.

In the Louvre’s original, which will not be cleaned in the foreseeable future, Lisa’s face is obscured by old, cracked varnish, making her appear almost middle aged. In the Prado copy we see her as she would have looked at the time—as a radiant young woman in her early 20s.

Leonardo da Vinci, and particularly his masterpiece the Mona Lisa, attracts endless sensationalist theories. However, the discovery of the contemporary copy has been accepted by the two key authorities, the Prado and the Louvre.
Source: The Art Newspaper 

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