Original Portrait of the Mona Lisa Found Beneath the Paint Layers of da Vinci’s Masterpiece

The BBC is get­ting ready to air a doc­u­men­tary, Secrets of the Mona Lisa, which will delve into the research of French sci­en­tist Pas­cal Cotte. Using an inno­v­a­tive imag­ing tech­nique, Cotte has man­aged to probe the paint lay­ers beneath the sur­face of da Vin­ci’s six­teenth-cen­tu­ry mas­ter­piece. And, lo and behold, he’s found hid­den paint­ings, includ­ing what he believes is an orig­i­nal, “real” por­trait of Lisa del Gio­con­do (the sub­ject of da Vin­ci’s paint­ing).

The host of the doc­u­men­tary, art his­to­ri­an Andrew Gra­ham-Dixon, announced, “I have no doubt that this is def­i­nite­ly one of the sto­ries of the cen­tu­ry.” Oth­er art his­to­ri­ans are not get­ting car­ried away. Mar­tin Kemp, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor of the His­to­ry of Art at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford, said in an inter­view: “They [Cot­te’s images] are inge­nious in show­ing what Leonar­do may have been think­ing about. But the idea that there is that pic­ture as it were hid­ing under­neath the sur­face is unten­able. I do not think there are these dis­crete stages which rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent por­traits. I see it as more or less a con­tin­u­ous process of evo­lu­tion. I am absolute­ly con­vinced that the Mona Lisa is Lisa.” Or, put dif­fer­ent­ly, there are not dif­fer­ent por­traits on da Vin­ci’s can­vas, just stages of the same por­trait that now hangs in the Lou­vre today.

Get more back­ground on the doc­u­men­tary and Cot­te’s research here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Did Leonar­do da Vin­ci Paint a First Mona Lisa Before The Mona Lisa?

Watch Leonar­do da Vinci’s Musi­cal Inven­tion, the Vio­la Organ­ista, Being Played for the Very First Time

Mark Twain Skew­ers Great Works of Art: The­Mona Lisa (“a Smoked Had­dock!”), The Last Sup­per (“a Mourn­ful Wreck”) & More

Free Course: An Intro­duc­tion to the Art of the Ital­ian Renais­sance

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

    The ques­tions we could ask our­selves are: 1. Was it an under­paint­ing? 2. Was it an attempt to search for what made the smile a smile by rework­ing on top? 3. Was it a rework for mood set­ting of the por­trait and ground? 4. Was it an attempt to seek some­thing beyond the aspect of 3D sug­gest­ing, includ­ing the mys­tery with­in? 5. Did he try to find a way of illus­trat­ing which would bring some­thing more than object con­tact; — the recog­ni­tion of self to self see­ing? This may have been Leonar­do’s ques­tions when attempt­ing to illus­trate the Nat­ur­al state of Being. These are some of my ques­tions when I draw. And equal­ly may have been yours? Every­one’s ques­tions per­haps? (Leonar­do may have been influ­enced by Socrates state­ment about the move­ment of the soul?). Best wish­es in your quest, lead­ing towards illus­trat­ing and paint­ing the human form. Equal­ly “just” sim­ply observ­ing with­out and with­in.

    Note that on the over­paint­ing the light on the face, the shad­ows are dif­fer­ent and mel­low­er. The out­line of the face is also a lit­tle wider and there­fore giv­ing a lit­tle small­er smile. This seems to give a sweet­er smile com­plex­ion of the whole face. It seems the under­paint­ing is of a younger girl. I could be wrong on this point. Nev­er­the­less that’s how it appears to me now. Leonar­do may have stud­ied the girl in time; as she was grow­ing he may have noticed a greater bulk of face. It is pos­si­ble to expe­ri­ence this when you see a per­son again after you had not seen for some time. These may have been the fac­tors which Leonar­do may have come across in the pro­duc­tion the paint­ing.

    When we meet togeth­er we feel our emo­tions and the words expressed from one to one and many; say? Joy? This may be a ques­tion under obser­va­tion in the per­for­mance of paint­ing the human fig­ure. See­ing may be pas­sive and active in art per­for­mance. All five sens­es can be instru­men­tal to the artist. Dare I say the 6th sense(s)? {The realm of meta­physics

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.