Conservators at the Prado in Madrid recently made an astonishing discovery. They announced yesterday that the painting assumed to be a replica of the Mona Lisa, had actually been painted by one of his key pupils, working alongside the master. The picture is more than just a studio copy – it changed as Leonardo developed his original composition.
The so-called “Mona Lisa of the Prado” has long been in the museum’s collection, tucked away in its vaults and displayed only occasionally, its significance not fully understood. The experts thought it was painted by some Dutch artist because they assumed it was painted on oak (a wood not used by Florentine painters), but actually it was painted on walnut. In size, it is close to that of the original: the Louvre’s painting is 77cm x 53cm and the Prado’s copy 76cm x 57cm.