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Mona Lisa 2.0: Swiss painting is ‘the original’

Published time: February 14, 2013 09:31
Edited time: February 14, 2013 14:14
Swiss version of the Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

Swiss version of the Da Vinci's Mona Lisa

New tests on a Swiss version of the da Vinci masterpiece provides evidence there could be two Mona Lisas.

­The Louvre Museum may no longer be the only home to Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century masterpiece. Another Mona Lisa portrait has been verified by a Swiss-based art foundation as an original.

The Mona Lisa Foundation announced on Wednesday that new tests had provided the organization with sufficient proof that their painting is not a copy, but an original crafted by da Vinci.

The Swiss version is believed to have been painted between 1501 and 1505, 11 years before the Louvre ‘Mona Lisa’ was commissioned and painted in 1516.

Carbon dating tests overseen by the Zurich Institute found that the painting’s canvas was made between 1410 and 1455, which refutes the claim it is a 16th century copy, but doesn’t answer the question why da Vinci would have used such a dated canvas for a masterpiece.

The foundation is also basing its claim on new ‘sacred geometry’ evidence provided by Alfonso Rubino, a specialist in the field. Rubino has found a linking ‘geometric-harmonic fabric’ in both Mona Lisas and da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

It would seem impossible that the earlier version could have been executed by any artist other than Leonardo,” Rubino concludes.

"When we add these new findings to the wealth of scientific and physical studies we already had, I believe anyone will find the evidence of a Leonardo attribution overwhelming," said David Feldman, vice president of the foundation, an Irish international art dealer.


Alessandro Vezzosi (L),the director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, presents a painting unveiled by the Mona Lisa Foundation in Geneva (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)
Alessandro Vezzosi (L),the director of the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci, presents a painting unveiled by the Mona Lisa Foundation in Geneva (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)

The ‘Isleworth Mona Lisa’, as it is named, was unveiled in Zurich last September.  It was discovered in 1913 by collector Hugh Blaker in a manor house in England. In 1936 it was bought by American collector Henry Pulitzer.

The Foundation’s website does not disclose the current owner.

The owners of the painting have endowed The Mona Lisa Foundation with exclusive rights to carry out its objectives.”

The Mona Lisa Foundation is a private non-profit organization based in Zurich Switzerland. The Foundation has dedicated 35 years of research to the ‘second’ Mona Lisa and claims to have no financial motivation.

The Foundation’s interactive website offers an abundance of documentation supporting the authenticity of the painting in Switzerland.
While there is obvious resemblance in style, many art experts dismiss it as a copy.

So much is wrong,” Martin Kemp, Emeritius Art History Professor Oxford University, told The Guardian in September.

The head, like all other copies, does not capture the profound elusiveness of the original,” Kemp told Time Magazine in October.

Kemp also noted the foundation’s portrait is painted on canvas, and not wood, like the Louvre portrait. 

The most recent Mona Lisa copy was discovered in the Prado in Madrid and was crafted by an apprentice of Da Vinci.

The famous painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre museum in Paris (AFP Photo)
The famous painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre museum in Paris (AFP Photo)

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