A Hidden Portrait Behind the ‘Mona Lisa’?

The “Mona Lisa” is the most famous painting in the world, but was the image the one Leonard da Vinci initially intended? French scientist Pascal Cotte says no.

Cotte claims to have found another version of the painting underneath the one everyone sees. Cotte discovered this, the BBC reports, by using light technology that can detect da Vinci’s original version.

Mona LisaCotte received access to the painting in 2004 and used a technique known as the Layer Amplification Method, which he pioneered. It projects intense light on the painting and then takes measurements on the reflections. Based on those measurements, Cotte can reconstruct what lies in the paint layers beneath the surface.

According to Cotte, da Vinci painted a similar, yet distinctly different picture of his model. His findings seem to show that the original has the iconic Mona looking slightly off to the side as opposed to the straight-on view that has become so iconic.

It’s a cool discovery, if true, but art skeptics are already a little dubious, in part because The Louvre, which houses the “Mona Lisa,” has declined to comment, as the museum did not take part in any of the research that was used.

If Cotte’s findings are indeed accurate, however, it serves to give some hope and inspiration to would-be artists out there. If even da Vinci himself needed a few tries to get something right, it shows that even the best artists made mistakes at their start. Whether you’re da Vinci from Italy or Mark from Boston, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to the fine art of painting.

An interesting part of the BBC report is a comment from Will Gompertz, an arts editor, who says, ”It’s perfectly common for an artist to overpaint an image as it is for a client who’s commissioned that artist to ask for changes. So it’s not surprising that there are those underpaintings on the ‘Mona Lisa.’”

So there you have it. Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest painters the world has ever known, likely needed a second crack at his most famous artwork to get it right. There’s hope for all of us with the right teacher and inspiration. At Hunakai Studio of Fine Arts, we’ve helped budding artists and developing students from all skill levels start and build their painting skills – as well as abilities in a wide range of other artistic mediums. Take a look at our upcoming classes or call us today at 508-543-5665 to learn more or enroll in an upcoming session.