Scientist discovers secret drawing under the ‘Mona Lisa’

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The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci continues to fascinate art watchers with its compositional secrets. A scientist called Pascal Cotte recently discovered a never-before-seen sketch underneath the masterpiece. For over 15 years, Cotte has been researching the Mona Lisa, having begun his research in 2004 when the Louvre allowed him to take photographic scans of the work. Cotte told Artnet News, “The Louvre invited me because I am the inventor of a new high-resolution, highly sensitive multi-spectral camera.”

Roughly 1,650 photographs of the portrait have been analysed by Cotte. Back in August 2020, his conclusions were published in the Journal of Cultural Heritage. The scientist built a high-tech system called the Lumiere Technology camera to detect light reflected on 13 wavelengths using the layer amplification method or LAM. The revolutionary techniques of scanning build on the expertise of infrared photography, enabling researchers to examine the smallest information hidden under a painting closely.

Cotte has analysed about 1,650 photos of the portrait. His findings were released in the Journal of Cultural Heritage back in August 2020. The scientist developed a high-tech device called the Lumiere Technology camera using the layer amplification method or LAM to detect light reflected on 13 wavelengths. The innovative scanning techniques draw on the skills of infrared imaging, allowing researchers to closely examine the tiniest detail concealed under a painting.

Spolvero transfer, also known as pouncing, is an early method used to transfer a composition ‘s preliminary sketches to the canvas. Initially, the artist would create holes in the silhouette of the sketch. Then, to remember the outlines, the artist will position the drawing across the canvas and dust a fine powder of charcoal or clay through the holes. The study of the Mona Lisa by Cotte marks the first time that a spolvero has been identified in the legendary work, which is proof that before painting it, da Vinci made an initial sketch of the famous portrait.

The drawing also depicts the subject of the Mona Lisa in a slightly different way from its final composition. In addition, Cotte’s analysis also showed charcoal highlights depicting a hairpin that was drawn above the head of the woman. “At the time da Vinci painted the renowned piece, this hairstyle was uncommon in Florence , Italy, indicating that the original subject of the artist may have been an allegorical figure or image of a” unreal woman, like a goddess, “Cotte explained.

In some respects, people had to be dressed to denote their occupation and honour colours for aristocracy, “said Cotte.” “It’s not possible for Mona Lisa to have this kind of hair, it was impossible in Florence at the time.” – Adapted from Hypebeast

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