Radiant Mona Lisa gives art lovers something to smile about
HER enigmatic smile has intrigued art lovers and historians for the past 500 years but an astonishing discovery may help to shed new light on the Mona Lisa.
A painting thought to be the earliest copy of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, created alongside the original, has been discovered in Madrid's Prado museum.
The discovery, hailed as one of the most remarkable and important in recent times, was made during conservation work and is believed to show how the famous beauty would have looked at the time.
The museum's curators had no idea of the significance of the piece, believing it to be an inferior copy from a much later date -- until it underwent routine restoration last autumn.
"This sensational find will transform our understanding of the world's most famous picture," said 'Art Newspaper', which publishes the findings in its February edition.
The replica provides clearer details of features obscured in the original.
The original, which is displayed at the Louvre in Paris, is obscured by cracked, darkened varnish, making the woman appear much older than her true age.
But art historians believe the Prado's Mona Lisa reveals her as she would have looked at the time -- a radiant young woman in her early 20s. (© Daily Telegraph, London)