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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Discovery of a preparatory drawing for the famous Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

It is a very high quality work made by a great master "said Mathieu Deldicque, curator at the Condé Museum in Chantilly.

This" Naked Joconde "is a a large charcoal drawing depicting a woman with a naked chest and a sketched smile. She is in the same pose as the famous Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum, with an androgynous face, rather masculine arms, but a woman's chest and ancient hairstyle. The curator insists that she represents a kind of universal "ideal beauty", .

Scientists and art historians have conducted an extensive investigation, accumulating clues to try to find out the author (s) of this disturbing work. In particular, microscopic examinations revealed a tight hatching, directed from the top left down to the right, as made by a left handed artist. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is one of the most famous left-hand painters in history.

The drawing on paper was acquired in 1862 by Henri D'Orleans, Duke D'Aumale, whose collection is exhibited in the Domaine de Chantilly. The work was then considered as an original by Leonardo da Vinci, having been used for the execution of a " Mona Lisa", preserved in the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg. Later, this painting has been relegated to the rank of simple studio copy, the cardboard, damaged by time and moisture, suffered the same disgrace.

But the preparation of an exhibition planned in June 2019 in Chantilly Domain for the 500 years of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, led the Condé museum to have this drawing analyzed for the first time in 2017 by the Research and Restoration Center.

"We discovered a lot of new elements", including "these left-handed traits," says Mathieu Deldicque. Other clues plead for a "leading" artist: - "the quality of the drawing" confirmed with the imagery, - the use of the technique of "sfumato" dear to Leonardo da Vinci, which allows fade the outlines. The drawing was modified at the time of its realization, "which proves that it is not a copy but an original work of creator", adds the curator. The curator notes :the hands of Mona Lisa 1 and those of the Mona Lisa 2 are "completely superimposable", which allows to say that the drawing was done "with the Mona Lisa in mind", after 1503, when Leonardo da Vinci began to paint the famous painting,

The analyzes also proved that this cardboard had been used. "We found at least two paintings by pupils close to Leonardo da Vinci who used this preparatory drawing," says the curator. In addition to the "Mona Lisa" of the Hermitage, another version, deposited in the museum of Vinci, the birthplace of the painter, would have been painted with this cardboard. Thanks to all these clues, "we now have the certainty that this drawing was created in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci and the participation of the master is very likely," summarizes the curator. The attribution cartel will specify "Leonardo da Vinci" or his studio ".

"There is a very great possibility that Léonard did most of the drawing, but we want to be serious and scientific, so we do not know for sure that Leonard is the author of the drawing and we will not have never, "he adds. The Condé Museum will present the results of the analyzes at a press conference on March 12 in Chantilly.

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