Dozens of replicas of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa (La Gioconda in Italian; La Joconde in French) have been made during the 16th and 17th centuries. One of them was stored in the vaults of the Prado Museum in Madrid. Last year curators found out that the panel was made of 16th century wood. Using infrared technology they discovered that underneath the black background a landscape was hidden.
It also revealed that the painting's underdrawings, sketches the painter makes before starting the actual painting, matched the underdrawings of the original Mona Lisa (the Louvre took IR images in 2004). This suggests that the copy was made at the same time, and at the same location, as the original! Appartently one of Leonardo's students painted it alongside the master.
The black overpainted was added to match other paintings in the gallery, it has been removed now. The result is a vibrant colorful painting, without cracks, and with eyebrows. This is how the original may have looked like years ago...
The painting will be fully restored by March, when it will be displayed next to the original in the Louvre in Paris from March 29 to June 25.
Left: the copy before the restoration. Middle: the restored copy. Right: the original.
The woman is generally believed to be Lisa Gherardini, and is thought to have been painted between 1503 and 1519.
next episode: Monsieur Fabry