Tags: lost | da vinci | painting

Lost Da Vinci Painting, Missing for Centuries, Found in a Swiss Vault

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 10:23 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A lost da Vinci painting that had been missing for centuries was recovered in a Swiss bank vault last week.

The work, which is believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1499, was of a Renaissance noblewoman named Isabella d’Este, who lived in the Lombardy region of northern Italy.

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Prior to the discovery, art historians debated whether the work ever actually existed. Up until now, the only proof they had of the painting's existence was a pencil sketch of the woman that presently hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, Britain's Telegraph reported.

The painting was one of 400 works belonging to an Italian family who asked to not be identified, according to the Telegraph.

The work was painted several years before da Vinci painted his famous Mona Lisa.

Measuring 24 by 18 inches, the painting came about after the subject, an aristocrat who was reportedly one of the most influential women of her time, saw da Vinci's sketch of her and commissioned a painting.

According to tests conducted on the painting's pigment and primer, the work was completed between 1460 and 1650, and matched that paints often used by the Renaissance man, Fox News reported.

The painting was further verified by Carlo Pedretti, a University of California art history professor and da Vinci expert.

"There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo," Pedretti told Corriere della Sera newspaper. "I can immediately recognize da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face."

Despite the assurances from Pedretti and the fact that the paints used in the portrait match those used by Da Vinci in that era, some remain unconvinced that it's an authentic Da Vinci work.

Some say da Vinci often painted on wooden panels, as opposed to canvas, which was used for this artwork.

"Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line," Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Oxford University, told the Telegraph. "Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised."

"You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely," Kemp added.

If authenticated, Kemp estimates the painting will be worth "tens of millions of pounds" (or dollars), considering there are just 15 to 20 genuine Da Vinci works still in existence.

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Related stories:

DNA Could Reveal Secret of Da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' Smile

Mona Lisa? Researchers Examine Remains Looking for Portrait's Subject

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