New Leonardo da Vinci discovery?


The painting appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Leonardo da Vinci painting lost for centuries found in Swiss bank vault

It was lost for so long that it had assumed mythical status for art historians. Some doubted whether it even existed.

By Nick Squires, Rome

3:32PM BST 04 Oct 2013

But a 500-year-old mystery was apparently solved today after a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was discovered in a Swiss bank vault.

The painting, which depicts Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman, was found in a private collection of 400 works kept in a Swiss bank by an Italian family who asked not to be identified.

It appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499.

The sketch, the apparent inspiration for the newly found work, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

For centuries it had been debated whether Leonardo had actually had the time or inclination to develop the sketch into a painted portrait.

After seeing the drawing he produced, the marquesa wrote to the artist, imploring him to produce a full-blown painting.

But shortly afterwards he embarked on one of his largest works, The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of Florence’s town hall, and then, in 1503, started working on the Mona Lisa.

Art historians had long believed he simply ran out of time — or lost interest — in completing the commission for Isabella d’Este.

Now it appears that he did in fact manage to finish the project — perhaps when he encountered the aristocrat, one of the most influential female figures of her day, in Rome in 1514.

Scientific tests suggest that the oil portrait is indeed the work of da Vinci, according to Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Prof Pedretti, a recognised expert in authenticating disputed works by Da Vinci, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

Tests have shown that the type of pigment in the portrait was the same as that used by Leonardo and that the primer used to treat the canvas on which it was painted corresponds to that employed by the Renaissance genius.

Carbon dating, conducted by a mass spectrometry laboratory at the University of Arizona, has shown that there is a 95 per cent probability that the portrait was painted between 1460 and 1650.

But there needs to be further analysis to determine whether certain elements of the portrait — notably a golden tiara on the noblewoman’s head and a palm leaf held in her hand like a sceptre — were the work of Leonardo or one of his pupils, Prof Pedretti said.

A likely contender would be Gian Giacomo Caprotti, nicknamed Salai, who began working with Leonardo as a child and is believed to have become his lover.

He is believed to have entered Leonardo’s household around 1490, when he was about 10 years old.

Working as the artist’s apprentice for the next 20 years, he acquired the nickname Salai, or Little Devil. He was the subject of several erotic drawings produced by the Renaissance master.

The newly discovered portrait, which measures 24in by 18in, does bear a striking similarity to the Leonardo sketch held by the Louvre — the woman’s posture, her hairstyle and her dress are almost identical, while her enigmatic smile recalls that of the Mona Lisa.

Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the world’s foremost experts on da Vinci, said if the find was authenticated it would be worth “tens of millions of pounds” because there are only 15 to 20 genuine da Vinci works in the world.

But he raised doubts about whether the painting was really the work of Leonardo.

The portrait found in Switzerland is painted on canvas, whereas Leonardo favoured wooden boards.

“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Prof Kemp told The Daily Telegraph. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised.”

There are further doubts – Leonardo gave away his original sketch to the marquesa, so he would not have been able to refer to it later in order to paint a full oil version.

“You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely,” Prof Kemp said.

It was more likely to have been produced by one of the many artists operating in northern Italy who copied Leonardo’s works.

Mona Lisa’s skeleton research


This video is called Leonardo da Vinci: “The Man Who Wanted to Know Everything”.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Mona Lisa’s Supposed Skeleton May Finally Solve Centuries-Old Mystery

08/09/2013 11:30 pm EDT

Researchers in Florence, Italy, are opening a centuries-old family tomb in hopes of solving one of the art world’s most pressing mysteries. The tomb in question belongs to the family of Lisa Gherardini, the 16th century Florentine woman thought to have been the face of Leonardo da Vinci‘s “Mona Lisa.”

According to NBC, a team of specialists have begun a series of DNA tests on three different skeletons found in an Ursuline convent in Florence. The bones were originally discovered in 2012 and are believed to include the remains of Gherardini, the wife of a merchant who at one point lived across the street from da Vinci.

Now, researchers are turning to the Gherardini family tomb, located in Florence’s Basilica della Santissima Annuziata, where they hope to excavate the skeletons of the supposed muse’s sons. The experts plan on comparing DNA evidence from the convent excavation to the bones in the basilica in order to verify that they indeed have access to Mrs. Gherardini’s remains.

Right now we are carrying out Carbon-14 tests on three of the eight skeletons found in St. Ursula.” explained Silvano Vinceti, head of the National Committee for the valuation of historic, cultural and environmental assets, to ANSA. “The Carbon-14 test will tell us which of the three dates back to the 1500s. Only then will we know which skeleton to do the final DNA test on.”

The 16th century art historian Giorgio Vasari was the first to identify Gherardini as the smirking female in Leonardo’s masterpiece. A number of academics since then have agreed that the former neighbor is the most likely suspect, speculating that her husband commissioned the “La Gioconda,” as the painting is known in Italy, himself.

If DNA testing proves that the skeletal remains are indeed Gherardini’s, the next step would be to reconstruct the woman’s face, based on the found bone structure, and measure that against Leonardo’s famous portrait.

Perhaps then we can understand why Mona Lisa pursed her lips hundreds of years ago. Maybe it was bad teeth after all?

Mona Lisa’s bones discovered?


This video says about itself:

Leonardo da Vinci

Italian Artist

1452 – 1519

0:01 – The Last Supper
0:14 – Portrait of an Unknown Woman (La Belle Ferroniere)
0:24 – St. John the Baptist
0:35 – Portrait of Ginevra de’Benci
0:48 – Study of an Old Man’s Profile
0:59 – Madonna Litta
1:11 – The Annunciation
1:23 – The Virgin of the Rocks
1:33 – Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (Lady with an Ermine)
1:43 – The Lady of the Dishevelled Hair (La Scapigliata)
1:53 – John the Baptist
2:02 – Virgin and Child with St. Anne
2:14 – St. Hieronymus
2:24 – Madonna with the Carnation
2:33 – Portrait of a Musician
2:45 – Mona Lisa (La Gioconda)
2:58 – Self-Portrait

Music: Bach’s Prelude And Fugue No. 13 In F-Sharp Major BWV 882 – Praeludium from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2 performed by Daniel Ben Pienaar. Available at http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/dbp-wtc2b/

by Philip Scott Johnson

From Discovery News:

Mona Lisa’s Skeleton Found?

Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi

Wed July 18, 2012 01:01 PM ET

Archaeologists say they have found a complete skeleton buried beneath the floor of an abandoned nunnery in Florence, Italy, which might belong to Lisa Gherardini, the woman believed to have inspired Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa.

The bones were found beneath the remains of an altar in the church of the now derelict Convent of St. Orsola.

“That altar was certainly in use at Lisa Gherardini’s time,” said Valeria D’Aquino, an archaeologist at the Tuscan Superintendency.

D’Aquino and colleagues had to dig through a foot of concrete before they unearthed a brick crypt containing the bones.

The bone hunt, which began last year, aims to possibly reconstruct Lisa’s face in order to see if her facial features match that of the iconic painting hanging at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Indeed, most scholars believe that the Mona Lisa, known as La Gioconda in Italian or La Joconde in French, is the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a member of a minor noble family of rural origins who married the wealthy merchant Francesco del Giocondo.

The ambitious project is led by Silvano Vinceti, president of a private organization known as the National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage.

Known for controversial claims, like that letters and numbers are hidden inside the Mona Lisa painting, Vinceti has based his search in the convent on documents found by historian Giuseppe Pallanti some years ago.

“Lisa Gheradini did exist and lived a rather ordinary life,” Pallanti, who is not involved in the project, told Discovery News.

The historian traced back Lisa’s life from her birth on June 15, 1479, to her death at the age of 63.

In his research, Pallanti found several important documents, such as Francesco del Giocondo’s will. There, the merchant asked his younger daughter, Marietta, to take care of his “beloved wife,” Lisa.

At that time, Marietta, one of Lisa and Francesco’s five children, had become a nun, thus she brought her mother to the nearby convent of Sant’Orsola.

Lisa remained there until her death, according to a document known as a “Book of the Dead,” found by Pallanti in a church archive.

“Lisa di Francesco Del Giocondo died on July 15, 1542 and was buried in Sant’Orsola,” the document stated.

The record noted that the whole parish turned out for her funeral, showing that Lisa was rather famous among Florentine society.

Vinceti said that the newly discovered bones will undergo radiocarbon dating, hystological analysis and DNA testing.

“If the bones turn to be those of a female skeleton there will be two possibilities: Either they belong to the noblewoman Maria del Riccio or they belong to Lisa Gherardini. According to historic records, only these two women, who were not nuns, were given special burials in the convent,” Vinceti told the local daily La Nazione.

Eventually, comparisons will be made with the DNA of Bartolomeo and Piero, Lisa’s children who are buried in the church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

Update: here.

Leonardo’s Mona Lisa was Lisa Gherardini


Mona Lisa

Reuters reports:

German experts crack Mona Lisa smile

By Sylvia Westall

Mon Jan 14, 11:33 AM ET

BERLIN – German academics believe they have solved the centuries-old mystery behind the identity of the “Mona Lisa” in Leonardo da Vinci‘s famous portrait.

Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, has long been seen as the most likely model for the sixteenth-century painting.

But art historians have often wondered whether the smiling woman may actually have been da Vinci‘s lover, his mother or the artist himself.

Now experts at the Heidelberg University library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa del Giocondo was indeed the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world.

“All doubts about the identity of the Mona Lisa have been eliminated by a discovery by Dr. Armin Schlechter,” a manuscript expert, the library said in a statement on Monday.

Until then, only “scant evidence” from sixteenth-century documents had been available. “This left lots of room for interpretation and there were many different identities put forward,” the library said.

The notes were made by a Florentine city official Agostino Vespucci, an acquaintance of the artist, in a collection of letters by the Roman orator Cicero.

The comments compare Leonardo to the ancient Greek artist Apelles and say he was working on three paintings at the time, one of them a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo.

Art experts, who have already dated the painting to this time, say the Heidelberg discovery is a breakthrough and the earliest mention linking the merchant’s wife to the portrait.

“There is no reason for any lingering doubts that this is another woman,” Leipzig University art historian Frank Zoellner told German radio. “One could even say that books written about all this in the past few years were unnecessary, had we known.”

The woman was first linked to the painting in around 1550 by Italian official Giorgio Vasari, the library said, but added there had been doubts about Vasari’s reliability and had made the comments five decades after the portrait had been painted.

The Heidelberg notes were actually discovered over two years ago in the library by Schlechter, a spokeswoman said.

Although the findings had been printed in the library’s public catalogue they had not been widely publicized and had been received little attention until a German broadcaster decided to do some recording at the library, she said.

The painting, which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, is also known as “La Gioconda” meaning the happy or joyful woman in Italian, a title which also suggests the woman’s married name.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)

Here is a Dutch video on this discovery.

See also here.

(PhysOrg.com) — Italian scientists hope to dig up the remains of Leonardo da Vinci in order to determine if his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is a disguised self-portrait: here.

Mona Lisa’s eyes may reveal model’s identity, expert claims: here.

Another Mona Lisa theory: here.

Mona Lisa could have been completed a decade later than thought. A drawing of rocks by Leonardo in the Royal Collection provides evidence that the artist worked on the portrait for much longer than the dates officially given by the Louvre: here.

Leonardo’s Last Supper: here. And here.

Leonardo’s Last Supper As It First Appeared? Here.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Studies on the Science of Flight Come to the Air and Space Museum: here.