The most famous work of Leonardo da Vinci, now in the Louvre, appears to have a hidden treasure, or at least that’s what says a French scientist who has studied the portrait with a new technique, other experts remain skeptical about the discovery.
Experts on Leonardo da Vinci’s work have divided opinions about the new finding which will surely fuel a very long debate among experts and researchers.
Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have worked on the Mona Lisa between 1503 and 1517 while working in Florence and France. Many believe that Mona Lisa is in fact Lisa Gherardini, wife of a Florentine silk merchant.
According to French researchers Pascal Cotte, beneath the famous painting, there is another one that remains hidden. Cotte’s claims are controversial and are dividing the opinion of Renaissance experts who are not sure what to think about the new discovery. The scientist says he has spent the last 10 years analyzing the painting with light reflective technology. A reconstruction shows three is another image, of a different model looking to the side. The Louvre Museum in Paris, declined to comment on the claims of Cotte since it “was not part of the scientific team”.
Cotte, who is the co-founder of Lumiere Technology in Paris obtained access from the Louvre to the painting in 2004. Using a revolutionary technology called Layer Amplification Method he was able to make the groundbreaking discovery.
It works by “projecting a series of intense lights” on to the painting, Mr Cotte said. A camera then takes measurements of the lights’ reflections and from those measurements, Mr Cotte said he is able to reconstruct what has happened between the layers of the paint.
Cotte claims that these results break a lot of silences and will forever change the vision we have about the masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci.
Will Gompertz, an Art Editor said:
“I’m skeptical. It’s perfectly common for an artist to over paint an image as it is for a client who’s commissioned that artist to ask for changes. So it’s not surprising that there are those underpaintings on the Mona Lisa.”
Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford is another expert that remains totally unconvinced saying:
“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. “
Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has been the subject of numerous scientific examinations over half a century and prior to Cotte’s examination of the paintings, the Mona Lisa was analyzed with infrared and multi-spectral scanning.
However, Cotte claims that his technique cannot be compared to other methods as his method can penetrate more deeply into the paintings.
“We can now analyze exactly what is happening inside the layers of the paint and we can peel like an onion all the layers of the painting. We can reconstruct all the chronology of the creation of the painting,” said Cotte.
Mr Cotte believes that the true identity of the Mona Lisa has only now been uncovered, or better said, the mystery has deepened. Mr Cotte believes that the image he has reconstructed below the surface of the painting is da Vinci’s original Lisa, the portrait named Mona Lisa for over 500 years is a totally different woman.
“The results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo’s masterpiece forever.”
“When I finished the reconstruction of Lisa Gherardini, I was in front of the portrait and she is totally different to Mona Lisa today. This is not the same woman.”
Cotte firmly believes that with his new technique, he has been able to identify two new images under the surface of Leonardo’s paintings, a shadowy outline of a portrait with a larger head and nose, bigger hands but smaller lips.