Does This Mona Lisa Pre-Date Da Vinci's?

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is, arguably, the most famous painting in the world. But would it be devalued if it wasn't the original? We might soon find out, because a very similar painting from the same period has surfaced — and it's by a different artist.

This painting has been discovered by conservators at the Prado art museum in Madrid, Spain, reports the Guardian, and it looks extremely similar to the one painted by da Vinci. Once hidden beneath black overpaint, new research reveals that it was in fact painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo, reports the Arts Newspaper.

Comapred to da Vinci's version, which hasn't been cleaned for a long time, this painting looks fresh and vibrant, giving a taste of what the world-famous picture may have looked like when it was first painted. In fact, the restoration work of the Prado painting isn't yet complete, which is why there's only this small section to admire. The picture should be fully restored by March, when it will go on exhibition in the Louvre in Paris.

As to whether this painting pre-dates da Vinci's work, nobody has yet been bold enough to say either way. So, for now at least, it remains unclear whether the master's work will be usurped by his student's. [The Guardian; Image: Museo Nacional del Prado]