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Experts are investigating whether Da Vinci drew ‘Nude Mona Lisa’

A nude drawing that bears a striking resemblance to the Mona Lisa may have been done by Leonardo da Vinci, French media reported on Thursday.

Experts are investigating whether Da Vinci drew 'Nude Mona Lisa'
Photo: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

Experts at the Louvre in Paris, where his masterpiece is held, have been examining a charcoal drawing known as the “Monna Vanna” which had been attributed to the Florentine master's studio.

The large drawing has been held since 1862 in the huge collection of Renaissance art at the Conde Museum at the palace of Chantilly, north of the French capital.

Curators from the museum believe that after a month of tests at the Louvre the “drawing is at least in part” by Leonardo.

“The drawing has a quality in the way the face and hands are rendered that is truly remarkable,” curator Mathieu Deldicque told the Figaro daily.

“It is almost certainly a preparatory work for an oil painting,” he added, with the obvious inference being that it is closely connected to the Mona Lisa.

'Almost identical'

The hands and body, Deldicque said, are almost identical to Leonardo's inscrutable masterpiece.

The drawing is almost the same size as the Mona Lisa, and small holes pierced around the figure point to the fact it may have been used to trace its form onto a canvas, he argued.

Louvre conservation expert Bruno Mottin confirmed that the drawing dates from Leonardo's lifetime at the turn of the 15th century. Tests, he told the Parisien newspaper, had already revealed that it was not a copy of a lost original.

But he said that “we must remain prudent” about definitively attributing it to Leonardo, who died in France in 1519.

The hatching on the top of the drawing near the head was done by a right-handed person. Leonardo drew with his left hand.

“It is job that is going to take some time,” he added.  “It is a very difficult drawing to work on because it is particularly fragile.”

But Mottin said that they hoped to pin down the identity of the artist within two years, in time for an exhibition at Chantilly to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death.

More than ten experts have been poring over the drawing for the past few weeks, using a variety of scans and other scientific methods. Their investigations have been centred on working out if the drawing was
made before or after the Mona Lisa, which was painted sometime after 1503.

The Chantilly drawing had originally been attributed to the Tuscan master when it was bought by the Duc d'Aumale in 1862 for 7,000 francs, a substantial sum at the time.

But later specialists had their doubts and thought it more likely that it came from a member of the artist's studio. Around 20 paintings and drawings of nude Mona Lisas exist in collections across the world but most have proved very difficult to date.

By Fiachra Gibbons

READ ALSO: Seven incredible art exhibitions not to miss across Italy this autumn

Seven incredible art exhibitions not to miss across Italy this autumn

Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP

TOURISM

The new guide to Florence’s Uffizi Galleries – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Florence's world-famous galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

The new guide to Florence's Uffizi Galleries - showing only the nudes
Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is the most famous work included in a controversial new guide to the Uffizi Galleries. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The online guide to the gallieries is produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

Part of the site’s Classic Nudes series of ‘erotic’ guides to some of the world’s most renowned museums, the guide for the Uffizi lists 21 artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and the location of each piece within the galleries.

“The Uffizi Gallery is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. So it’s no wonder it has such a large collection of artwork from the era. But what you may find surprising is the sheer volume and variety of naked bodies rendered in paint, bronze and marble in this marvelous museum,” writes Pornhub.

Among the works featured are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485) and the Roman statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, dating from the 1st Century.

The guide also includes the Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538), which it calls “kinky”, and Painting and Poetry by Francesco Furini (1626), which is described as featuring “two ridiculously hot babes who just so happen to be making out”.

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Bosses at the Uffizi were not amused at the gallery’s inclusion in Pornhub’s series and have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile in Paris, the Louvre’s management has said only that it is ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay remained silent on the subject.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

The Uffizi does, however, provide a great day out for all the family and contains a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present it is operating with reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

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