Thursday, February 9, 2012

Exciting discovery...another Mona Lisa

This may be "old news" (given that it was announced last Friday), but the information is still worth reporting. A contemporaneous copy of Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" has been discovered by conservators at the Prado. Well, so what? A copy of the Mona Lisa...big deal. Well, it IS a big deal. Copies of the ML were commonly created during the 16th and 17th centuries. However, this copy (shown below on the right) is unusual in that it possesses a number of the modifications to the work that Leonardo had done originally, meaning that the copied work was likely done side-by-side or at least within the same time frame.

Research presented to a recent symposium at the National Gallery suggests the painting on the right was made by a copyist in Leonardo's studio at precisely the same time Leonardo was painting the original (at left and at top above). Infrared images of the Prado painting were compared with those from the original and conservators found that the underdrawings were similar – providing compelling evidence that the two works were executed at the same time.

The newly discovered work offers a much fresher version of the enigmatic, captivating young sitter, generally acknowledged to be Lisa Gherardini, wife of the Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo. "The work has been in restoration for several months... The conservation process has not been finished. We are going to present the finished painting at the Prado in about three weeks.”

For all of you scientists and art/science people out there, consider the ways in which science helps us to construct and improve our art historical knowledge? This recent revision to the literature is just one example.


Jacob Pankey said...

Great Post!

Earl Grey said...

Thanks for the comment and thanks for tipping me off to this -- evidence of one of the many reasons I still need you as an intern:)

Boris Zakic said...

Does anyone else think that the eyes on the new one feel too close together? perhaps the reproduction issues--