Contentious

Scientist claims he found portrait of a different woman under the “Mona Lisa”

People view Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in Paris July 16, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (FRANCE - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR2OYAS

A French scientist, claims that he has found a different portrait hidden under Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterwork, the “Mona Lisa”, following 10 years of analysis using reflective light technology. Pascal Cotte says underneath the surface there is a portrait of a different sitter, looking off to the side and showing no trace of the familiar portrait’s direct gaze and enigmatic smile. Cotte, who was given access to the painting in 2004 has pioneered a technique called Layer Amplification Method (LAM), which he says can reconstruct what happened between the layers of paint and “reconstruct all the chronology of the creation of the painting.” While it is widely believed that the woman depicted in the world’s most famous painting is Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant, Cotte claims that his reconstruction of the image below the surface is Da Vinci’s original Lisa, while the actual “Mona Lisa” is a completely different woman, saying that his “results shatter many myths and alter our vision of Leonardo’s masterpiece forever.” Nevertheless, the Louvre museum — which owns the masterpiece — did not want to comment on his claims because it “was not part of the scientific team.”

Meanwhile, Cotte’s claims have divided Da Vinci experts: art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, who made a BBC documentary, The Secrets of the Mona Lisa, claims this is “one of the stories of the century” which could lead to the Louvre renaming the painting, while Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, remains unconvinced. “I do not think there are these discrete stages which represent different portraits,” he said. “I see it as more or less a continuous process of evolution. I am absolutely convinced that the ‘Mona Lisa’ is Lisa.”

Read the full story at the BBC.

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