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Europe

Louvre's Mona Lisa may be copy of an 'earlier version'

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-02-17

A Swiss art foundation claims it has proof that an “earlier” version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa masterpiece at the Louvre is a genuine painting by the Italian master.

Tests on a painting touted as an earlier version of the world-famous Mona Lisa prove that it is an original work by Leonardo Da Vinci, a Zurich-based art foundation claimed this week.

New analyses included an examination of “sacred geometry” as well as carbon dating and pigmentation tests carried out after the so-called “Isleworth Mona Lisa” was unveiled in Switzerland in September 2012.

Despite some experts dismissing the authenticity of the painting, there was enough support in the art world to encourage the not-for-profit Swiss-based Mona Lisa Foundation to commission scientific analyses of the painting, whose results they believe are definitive.

“I am 100 percent convinced that this is a genuine Leonardo,” foundation vice-president David Feldman told FRANCE 24.

According to Feldman, much of the criticism levelled at the Isleworth version, named after a London suburb where it was kept by British art connoisseur Hugh Blaker until 1913, was that it bore the hallmarks of a 17th or 18th century work and was therefore a copy made well after the original.

Louvre version ‘of higher quality’

“But carbon dating tests show that this painting was made in the early 16th century at the very latest,” he said. “It is the original, seminal, Mona Lisa.

“The Louvre version is far more advanced and of far higher quality, but it is a copy made by Leonardo himself from the earlier one.”

As well as carbon dating, Italian geometrist Alfonso Rubino studied the Isleworth version against Leonardo’s ‘Vitruvian Man’ and concluded that the geometry of the Swiss Mona Lisa was the same as the Italian master’s.

Surviving documents show that Florentine nobleman Francesco del Giacondo commissioned Leonardo to paint a picture of his wife Lisa in the early 16th century.

Feldman believes that the Swiss painting was probably left unfinished before Leonardo painted the second version that now hangs in the Louvre.

Leonardo moved to France in 1517, where he died in 1519. French King François I bought the Mona Lisa soon afterwards, and it has been a French possession ever since.

The Louvre Museum in Paris told FRANCE 24 it was often solicited for comment on the authenticity of paintings, "something that can only serve to increase the value of works in private collections” and declined to comment further.

Date created : 2013-02-14

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