ShareThis Page

Mona Lisa unveiled? Nude sketch may have link to masterpiece

| Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, 9:36 a.m.
In this June 1, 2016 file photo, visitors crowded in front of Leonardo da Vinci's painting 'Mona Lisa' at Musée du Louvre in Paris. French government art experts are trying to find out, analyzing a charcoal sketch of a woman's face and nude torso, in a laboratory beneath the Louvre Museum to see if Leonardo da Vinci himself drew it before painting his 16th century masterpiece.
In this June 1, 2016 file photo, visitors crowded in front of Leonardo da Vinci's painting 'Mona Lisa' at Musée du Louvre in Paris. French government art experts are trying to find out, analyzing a charcoal sketch of a woman's face and nude torso, in a laboratory beneath the Louvre Museum to see if Leonardo da Vinci himself drew it before painting his 16th century masterpiece.
Chief curator of heritage, Bruno Mottin (left) examines a charcoal sketch through a microscope, depicting a nude woman while Mathieu Deldicque, curator at Conde museum, looks on, at the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France in Paris, France.
Chief curator of heritage, Bruno Mottin (left) examines a charcoal sketch through a microscope, depicting a nude woman while Mathieu Deldicque, curator at Conde museum, looks on, at the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France in Paris, France.

There's something vaguely familiar about this charcoal sketch of a woman's face and nude torso — could it be an unclothed precursor to the Mona Lisa?

French government art experts are trying to find out, analyzing the sketch in a laboratory beneath the Louvre Museum to see if Leonardo da Vinci himself drew it before painting his 16th century masterpiece.

The sketch, previously attributed to Leonardo's students, is part of a collection at the Musee Conde du Domaine de Chantilly museum north of Paris. Museum curator Mathieu Deldicque said on BFM television Friday that there are signs it was drawn by Leonardo himself.

He noted the position of the subject's hands, and the “enigmatic smile.” But he acknowledged differences, including the way she holds her chest and the hairstyle.

The Mona Lisa oil painting, among the world's greatest art treasures, hangs in the Louvre.

Art historians believe Leonardo drew or painted a nude version of the Mona Lisa. Deldicque acknowledged that the belief is feeding hopes that the Chantilly museum's sketch was indeed made by Leonardo's hand.

“We know that da Vinci created a nude version,” the curator said. “We don't know where the work of the master is.”

“There are two mysteries” around this sketch, he said. “The author, and the meaning of this nude Mona Lisa.”

The government-run Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France says its experts are studying the sketch and that it will stay out of the public eye until the examination is complete.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.