Lines and Colors art blog

Mona Lisa copy from Da Vinci’s workshop

Mona Lisa copy from Leonardo Da Vinci's workshop
A painting in the collection of the Prado in Madrid that was long assumed to be a copy of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa done at a later time was recently cleaned and restored, revealing a previously unseen background where there was once just dark, and on further examination is now thought to be a copy done in Leonardos’ studio by one of his pupils at the same time as the master was working on the original.

If true, the painting gives us not only an insight into the master’s techniques, as it was apparently revised as Leonardo revised the original, but also reveals a clearer picture of what the original, which has not been cleaned for some time, may have looked like when originally painted.

According to The Art Newspaper, which broke the story, the scholarly paper that suggests the new placement of the painting within Leonardo’s studio at the same time as the original was presented in conjunction with the current landmark exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: painter at the Court of Milan that ends soon at the National Gallery, London.

I’ve linked to several articles below, though most source from The Art Newspaper. The LA Times has posted perhaps the best side by side image of the two paintings.

The copy by the as yet unidentified student shows us not only the brighter colors that probably lie under layers of varnish in the original, but a younger looking subject (assumed to be Lisa Gherardini).

It also makes clearer what I have long asserted to be the source of her famously “enigmatic smile” — mouth corners turned up at one end, but straight on the other [see my previous post: La Gioconda (The Mona Lisa), flipped for your viewing pleasure].


8 responses to “Mona Lisa copy from Da Vinci’s workshop”

  1. Lane Meyers Avatar
    Lane Meyers

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised that both portraits are by Da Vinci.

  2. Some of the Spanish accounts as well as Time magazine speculate on the possibility that the copy may have been done by either Francesco Melzi or Andrea Salai, Leonardo’s bad-boy studio assistant and, according to a number of biographers, possible love interest.

  3. On the website of Spanish newspaper El Pais they have posted two pictures that allow you to move/roll-over the original Mona Lisa, directly on top of this new found copy. Makes you see all these differences very clearly. No need to speak Spanish, just scroll down this page:

  4. Leonardo’s painting is clearly superior. For me, it is very natural and human. The other looks artificial.

  5. I wished I never saw the copy. Everything is out of proportion. For Dr Vito Franco, from Palermo University, she shows clear signs of a build-up of fatty acids under the skin, caused by too much cholesterol.
    He also suggests there seems to be a lipoma, or benign fatty-tissue tumour, in her right eye.
    Dr Franco says his medical examinations reveal more than artistic viewings. (BBC NEWS)
    What next? LOL

  6. The visibility of the eyebrows are actually very off-putting for me.

    I never really noticed that might be the reason for the not so there smile. It’s definitely clearer in this copy. It’s a great smile.

  7. isaiah Avatar

    i feel tht Lane Meyers is correct cuz whn working with oil paints it is always good to make two copies so tht one may b used for experimentation

  8. isaiah Avatar

    the first one is a final output whereas the second one is only done to the basic paints and the final touches and shades have not been added