‘Mona Lisa’ mystery: Was painting completed a decade later?


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Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ is commonly thought to have been created between 1503-06. But a new finding suggests that the masterpiece may actually have been completed a decade later.

The discovery began when a specialist at the Prado Museum in Madrid studied infrared images of a rare, recently restored copy of the ‘Mona Lisa’ that had been painted in parallel with the original, the Art Newspaper reports.


Images of the Prado copy revealed depictions of rock formations in the background of the painting that were based on one of Da Vinci’s later drawings. Then specialists at the Louvre Museum in Paris used X-ray technology on the original ‘Mona Lisa’ and found some of the same rock formations.

The depictions of rocks are believed to be based on a drawing that Da Vinci made that dates between 1510-15, and that is now kept in the Royal Collection in Britain.

The Art Newspaper report states that the Louvre still dates the completion of the ‘Mona Lisa’ to 1506, but that the actual date could be as late as 1519. It is widely believed that the world’s most famous portrait was commissioned by the family of Lisa del Giocondo, who was the wife of a rich Florentine merchant. ‘The extremely long period over which the painting was created, up to 16 years, is further evidence that Leonardo worked slowly,’ said the Art Newspaper report.

Earlier this month, the Art Newspaper reported that the artist who created the Prado’s copy of the ‘Mona Lisa’ was probably Da Vinci’s assistant, the young artist known as Salaì, who is also believed to have been the master’s lover.


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-- David Ng