Will the real Mona Lisa please stand up—or at least send us a signal from within the paint layers? The art world is buzzing over a French scientist’s claims that he discovered a portrait of another woman lurking beneath the top layer of the world’s most famous painting.
Her mysterious smile has always seemed like the Mona Lisa knew something those looking at her did not – and now it seems she has been hiding a secret all along.
The latest findings from his study of da Vinci’s work, he said there are three different paintings beneath the Mona Lisa and computer reconstructions of what they look like have been created.
One is claimed to be an early study of a head and another is a Madonna-style portrait with an extraordinary, elaborate headdress.
But the most surprising finding is the third ‘hidden portrait’.
Graham-Dixon believes Mr Cotte has found the original portrait of Lisa del Giocondo – the Florentine merchant’s wife Mona Lisa, painted in 1503.
The art historian told The Times the computer composition is ‘a perfect match for the historical record’ and said it has never tallied with the image in the famous French gallery.
Pascal Cotte told MailOnline said the woman’s dress in the hidden portrait is much more fashionable than the one shown in the famous final image.
WHO WAS THE MONA LISA?
Florentine noblewoman, Lisa Gherardini, also known as Lisa del Giocondo, is widely believed to be the model for Leonardo da Vinci’s painting.
Lisa del Giocondo is thought to have posed for the painting between 1503 and 1506.
Not much is known about her life. Born in Florence and married in her teens to a cloth and silk merchant who later became a local official, she was mother to five children.
It is believed Francesco del Giocondo commissioned the portrait to celebrate either his wife’s pregnancy or the purchase of a house around 1502 and 1503.
After his death, Gherardini became a nun. She died in 1542 at the age of 63 and was said to be buried near the Sant’Orsola convent’s altar.
In 2014 scientists conducted a DNA test on bones found at the convent which they believe belonged to Lisa del Giocondo but the results are still to be released.
Computer technology has been used to bring the Mona Lisa to life like never before.
An interactive version of the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci allows her to turn her head, pucker her lips, frown and even breathe.
The Living Mona Lisa project, or Living Joconde as it is known in France, uses artificial intelligence to transform the oil painting into a living, moving work of art.
While it does not perhaps tell us anything new about the woman in the painting – thought to be Lisa Gherardini – it perhaps lets viewers see her as da Vinci did while she posed for him.
But he added: “That there are two or three quasi-finished pictures under there that you could find if you peeled back the layers, is not really supportable. Leonardo’s process of composing pictures was very fluid. Things came and went.